Turkey’s pro-Kurd party to boycott parliament after MP arrests

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The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) on Sunday said it was halting all its activities in the Turkish parliament after nine of its MPs, including the two co-leaders, were arrested.

The decision means that MPs from the HDP — the third-largest party in parliament with 59 seats — will no longer sit in the Meclis or take part in any commission work.

“Our parliamentary faction and party executive have taken the decision to halt our work in the legislative organs in the face of this comprehensive and dark attack,” the HDP said in a statement.

Instead of sitting in parliament, its remaining MPs who are not under arrest will go from “house to house, village to village and district to district” to meet people, it said.

It said that at the end of these consultations, proposals will be made over how to go forwards.

Nine MPs from the HDP, including its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were on Friday jailed pending trial by the courts in a move that caused international consternation.

They have been charged with membership and promotion of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The HDP has always vehemently denied being a front for the PKK, which has waged an over three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state in search of greater rights and autonomy for the Kurdish minority.

HDP party spokesman Ayhan Bilgen said in comments published by in Turkish media that the decisions means that “HDP will not take part in the general session of parliament or commissions”.

Declaring that Turkey was at a “turning point”, he said any decision on whether to replace the imprisoned Demirtas and Yuksekdag while they were jailed would be taken in the next days.