The Turkish parliament has stripped two more lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of their legislative position as Ankara presses ahead with a clampdown on members of the opposition party.
According to Press TV, an official from HDP said Osman Baydemir and Selma Irmak were removed from office Thursday over recent criminal convictions. Baydemir was convicted of insulting police while Irmak was convicted of terror propaganda.
Reacting to the stripping of the MPs’ status, the party said on social networking site Twitter that the dismissed lawmakers will continue to represent the people.
“Those who usurp the people’s will should be consigned to the dustbin of history, Baydemir and Irmak will continue to represent the people!”
The opposition party has come under intense pressure since the July 2016 failed coup and the crackdown against coup plotters and Kurdish militants.
Its members still face dozens of court cases, with many involving accusations of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group engaged in an armed insurgency against Ankara in the nation’s predominantly Kurdish southeast since the 1980s.
This is while the HDP, which denies direct links to the PKK, had 59 lawmakers elected to parliament in the 2015 general election but has since lost several members.
At least nine HDP lawmakers and former Co-Chiefs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag are currently in prison. Meanwhile, 11 HDP lawmakers have lost their legislative status including Yuksekdag.
The party elected Pervin Buldan and former MP Sezai Temelli to replace Yuksekdag and Demirtas.
Demirtas campaigned at the time on a promise to stop Erdogan becoming president under an executive presidency. However, Turks narrowly approved constitutional changes to create such a system in an April 2017 referendum.
The development on Thursday took place a day after Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would hold snap parliamentary and presidential elections in June.
The HDP is facing an uphill struggle in the June 24 snap elections since making history by becoming the first pro-Kurdish party to enter the Turkish parliament three years ago.