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Turkish parliament strips membership of pro-Kurdish lawmaker

A pro-Kurdish lawmaker was stripped of her status as a member of Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday because she faces charges including membership of a terrorist organization.

The move to strip Nursel Aydogan’s status was read out in parliament after a court finalised a charge against the politician from Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarkabir.

Aydogan, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), faces charges including “being a member of a terrorist organization and committing crimes in the name of the organization”, though it was not immediately clear which of several charges led to her losing her parliamentary status.

Filiz Kerestecioglu, a deputy group chairman for the HDP, said: “This parliament will go down in history as a parliament that ignores the people’s will.”

Aydogan has not publicly responded to the allegations.

In February, parliament had stripped Figen Yuksekdag, one of the HDP’s two leaders, of her membership. Her co-leader Selahattin Demirtas was jailed.

The arrests of thousands of pro-Kurdish politicians and lawmakers left the second-largest opposition party leaderless ahead of last month’s referendum to extend President Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

The arrests, along with those of tens of thousands of others since an abortive coup in July, drew international condemnation over what rights groups say is a widening crackdown on dissent.

Erdogan and the government, however, say the HDP is an affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast for more than three decades. The HDP denies direct links to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Since the failed coup, some 40,000 people have been arrested and more than 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the military, civil service and private sector.

A spokesman for the HDP, Osman Baydemir, said on Monday that the party would meet on May 20 to elect a new co-leader to take Yuksekdag’s position.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Gulsen Solaker; Editing by Dominic Evans and Mark Trevelyan)


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