HDP MP Semra Güzel has been deprived of her seat in the Turkish parliament

Statement by our Foreign Affairs Spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy:

The latest attack of AKP-MHP coalition on parliamentary democratic opposition in Turkey was carried out against HDP MP Semra Güzel, a medical doctor by profession, who was elected to the Turkish Parliament in June 2018.On 1 March 2022, the legislative immunity of Ms. Güzel was lifted by a parliamentary vote. On 3 September, Semra Güzel was unlawfully arrested after being targeted by a political lynching campaign. On 22 December, Ms. Güzel was stripped of her status as a member of parliament in a parliamentary vote on the grounds that she had failed to attend parliamentary sessions for a long time. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) the IYI (Good) Party voted for stripping Ms. Güzel of her MP status. Ms. Güzel is still behind bars.

The main accusation against Semra Güzel is based on photographs taken of her together with her fiancé, Volkan Bora, in a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) camp in Iraq in 2014. The photographs were taken during the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK that took place from 2013 to 2015. Ms. Güzel visited a PKK camp in 2014 and took photographs with her fiancé, who had joined the PKK in 2009 when they were still students at Harran University. During the peace process, many HDP leaders, including the party’s co-chairs, visited the PKK headquarters in Iraq, and met and took photographs with PKK leaders. It is important to highlight that these meetings with PKK took place at the formal request of the Turkish government as part of peace negotiations. In this same period, the Turkish government encouraged Kurdish families to meet with family members in the PKK to convince them to support a peaceful settlement and to return home. In fact, with the encouragement of the government and under the close watch of Turkish security forces, many tents were erected in the Kurdish countryside where Kurdish families met their children, talked with them, and took photographs together.

Previously, thirteen HDP deputies had been unlawfully removed from their parliamentary seats. Dozens of deputies have been arrested, and nine are still behind bars, including our party’s former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and FigenYüksekdağ. All of these arrests are happening as part of a protracted crackdown campaign on the HDP and despite multiple rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

It is only sad to see that such further destruction of parliamentary democracy by stripping Ms Güzel of her parliamentary status has not even become important news both at home and abroad in the run-up to the most important elections in the history of Turkey’s parliamentary democracy.

We will not get used to such sheer unlawfulness. Dr. Güzel continues her struggle for democracy, justice and freedom from within a prison cell.

Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
HDP’s Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs
26 December 2022