ISTANBUL — Turkish police on Thursday detained three opposition lawmakers after the parliament stripped them of their jobs, triggering furious charges that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is seeking to further consolidate his rule.
The parliament controlled by Erdogan's AKP party barred an MP from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and two others from the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) from serving in the assembly, the parties said.
The move lifts their parliamentary immunity, paving the way for their imprisonment as courts have previously sentenced them on espionage or terror-related charges.
HDP MPs Musa Farisogullari and Leyla Guven said on Twitter they were detained hours after the removal of their parliamentary mandates.
Farisogullari said he was taken into police custody on the way from Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey to Ankara where he planned to visit the party headquarters.
Guven, who launched a hunger strike in 2018 to end jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan's isolation, said she was also taken into custody in Diyarbakir.
CHP MP Enis Berberoglu was detained in Istanbul, the party's deputy leader Tuncay Ozkan announced on Twitter.
Earlier the session in parliament was tense and the move to ouster the MPs provoked uproar as opposition MPs banged their fists on their desks and called for unity against what they described as "fascism".
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu denounced the move against Berberoglu as yet another step in Erdogan's continuing crackdown on the opposition since a failed 2016 coup against the president.
"We will keep up with the struggle for democracy in order to restore justice, rights and law," Kilicdaroglu tweeted.
'Coup in parliament'
The Kurdish HDP party tweeted to denounce the ouster of its MPs Guven and Farisogullari as an "unlawful step," using the hashtag #MeclisteDarbeVar (There is a coup in the parliament).
In 2019, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the prison sentences given to the pair on charges of membership of the outlawed Kurdish militants listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
The government accuses the HDP of links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – an armed group which has waged a bloody insurgency against the state since 1984.
Berberoglu was allowed to walk free in 2018 following 16 months in an Istanbul prison after winning election to parliament in the June 24, 2018 snap election but will now return to complete his sentence.
Ruling party lawmaker Cahit Ozkan dismissed the accusations against his AKP.
He said the ouster of the three MPs were in line with parliamentary procedure, saying there were court verdicts against them despite pending appeals at the constitutional court.
"The constitutional court cannot prevent parliament from making such a decision," he said. — AFP