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Turkey’s Kurdish leader: We will struggle on in parliament ‘till the end’

Turkey’s top Kurdish political leader tells Al-Monitor his party remains committed to a political struggle despite government efforts to crush the party in parliament.
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After two decades, parliament members from Turkey’s Kurdish movement are again under the threat of losing their judicial immunities, and then probably their seats. In 1994, parliament voted to lift the immunities of six Kurdish lawmakers, among them the iconic Leyla Zana, after which they were rudely put into police cars waiting at parliament’s gate and whisked away. The deputies stood trial for collaborating with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist group, and some ended up with lengthy jail terms. The image of the unprecedented arrests outside parliament has haunted Turkey ever since. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) used to be a vocal critic of this episode, but today the ruling party has launched its own drive to strip at least five deputies of the Kurdish-dominated Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from their judicial immunities, among them party co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, on similar charges of supporting terrorism.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Demirtas asserted the HDP would not walk out of the legislature even if the AKP’s drive succeeded, vowing to “stay in Parliament till the end and struggle on.” He said the HDP would seek international support, but voiced pessimism over prospects of peace under the government’s current policies.

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