The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has vowed to halt all activity in the Turkish Parliament following the arrests of its two co-leaders and seven other lawmakers.
Party co-leaders Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas were among those arrested on Friday upon the orders of prosecutors in Turkey’s east and southeast. The state prosecutors accuse the arrested lawmakers of having links to the PKK -- which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, Turkey, and EU -- and of furthering the group’s violent agenda.
The party, however, denies any links with the group.
“As a result of discussions we held with our parliamentary group and the 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,” said the party spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen on Sunday.
— HDP English (@HDPenglish) 6 November 2016
He said the lawmakers would not resign, but they would not take part in parliamentary sessions.
Bilgin also said his party would pay visits to cities across the country in the coming days to consult its supporters on if there should be a substitute replacement for the co-chair position, which has been vacant since the co-leaders were arrested.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim criticised the boycott decision, comparing the boycotting lawmakers to “students who skipped school.”
“If the HDP lawmakers are representing the nation, then they have to go to parliament,” he said. “If they fail to perform their duties, then the party will be betraying the people’s will.”
TAK claims Diyarbakir attack
The arrests were followed by violent protests and a car bombing in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, which killed eleven people and wounded more than 100.
The Turkish government at first held the PKK responsible for the attack, but a few hours later the Daesh terrorist group said it had carried out the attack.
On Saturday, however, the Turkish government cited radio intercepts between PKK members as proof that they were the real perpetrators of the attack.
TAK, an offshoot of the PKK, later claimed responsibility for the car bomb, its affiliated ANF news agency reported.
Pro-PKK ANF news says TAK has claimed the Diyarbakir bombing. TAK's formal website says they conducted the attack in Diyarbakir. pic.twitter.com/XwiJvZ7Uvn
— Ragp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) 6 November 2016
TAK is also regarded as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and the United States.
According to the US Department of State, TAK is affiliated with the PKK and “is responsible for multiple terrorist attacks in Turkey, which targeted tourist locations, military sites, and government buildings, resulting in several deaths.”