ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily News)—The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has decided to resume parliamentary works after a two-week boycott following the arrest of its deputies and co-chairs, a party official has announced.
“After our co-presidents and deputies were taken hostage, we decided on a de facto withdrawal from parliament. However, we have now decided to take a more effective part in parliament after intense meetings,” said Doğan Erbaş, the co-chair of the HDP’s Istanbul branch.
Erbaş was addressing a demonstration in the Kartal district of Istanbul on November 20, protesting the arrest of eight deputies and the party’s co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.
Discussions had started within the HDP after the party decided to halt all parliamentary works on November 6, according to media reports.
“As a result of discussions we held with our parliamentary group and central executive board, we have decided to halt our legislative efforts in light of the most extensive and the darkest attack in our history, and meet with our people once again,” HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen had said after a party meeting on November 6 in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
The decision received negative reactions from other parties in parliament, and Doğan said their return was partly motivated by the fact that their absence was easing the government’s lawmaking process.
“We’ve all seen the legal debates on granting pardons to rapists. Would it have been so easy to pass if the HDP was there at parliament?” he said, referring to a controversial recent government-sponsored bill proposing to legally pardoning men charged of sexual abuse.
Meanwhile a group of lawmakers from five European countries, including Sergei Stanishev, the president of the Party of European Socialist (PES), were blocked from visiting jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş on the grounds of not getting permission in advance. Demirtaş has been held in jail in the northwestern province of Edirne for almost three weeks.
“Unfortunately we are here because of the constant deterioration of democratic rights in Turkey and I want to express my deepest concerns.” Stanishev said, adding that he will share his observations on Turkey in Europe.
The group also included Hannes Weninger from Austria, Ame Lietz from Germany, Giacomo Filibeck, Lorenza Tieri, Pia Locatelli, Marietta Tidei and Brando Benfei from Italy, Marie Granlund, Jens Orbach and Johan Buser from Switzerland and Marie Rose Koro from France.