A Turkish parliamentary committee on Tuesday agreed on the removal of Leyla Zana, a veteran Kurdish politician and lawmaker of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), from the national assembly.
Reasons behind the committee’s decision to oust Zana were her absence from legislative sessions and her altering of the MPs’ oath when she was elected in 2015.
HDP’s Deputy Co-leader Meral Danis Bestas labeled the ruling as purely political, reported Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau.
“She is one of our renowned figures who has paid a great price for the Kurdish politics,” Bestas said.
“Kenan Evren’s spirit rules Turkey,” she added, reminding that the current Turkish Constitution was a remnant of the 1980 military coup’s leader and general who later became the seventh President of the Republic.
The final decision to strip Zana of her lawmaker status belongs to the Parliament’s general assembly dominated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Of the 550-seated Parliament, 276 votes will be enough to oust Zana.
The AKP has 317 MPs, whereas the HDP holds 54 with five of its lawmakers already ousted.
The Parliament previously kicked out four pro-Kurdish lawmakers: the party’s former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, Nursel Aydogan of Diyarbakir, Tugba Hezer of Van, and Faysal Sariyildiz of Sirnak provinces.
While both Yuksekdag and Aydogan are serving prison sentences along with eight other lawmakers and their co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, Hezer and Sariyildiz have fled to a European country as the result of an ongoing state crackdown on the HDP.
Zana was barred from executing her legislative powers since her election in November 2015 due to her slightly changing the lawmakers’ oath for taking office during the Parliament’s opening ceremony then.
Her alteration of the phrase “the Turkish nation” to “the nation of Turkey” in the lawmakers’ oath led to the Speaker barring her from the legislative process.
Zana became a powerful symbol of national consciousness for the Kurds in Turkey when she took the MP oath in the Kurdish language in 1991, the year she became the first female Kurdish lawmaker making it to the Parliament.
She is now, for the second time, about to lose the seat she won in elections.
In 1994, a court sentenced her to 15 years of incarceration for “treason and membership in the PKK.”
The conviction was handed out because of a speech she gave on Kurdish rights during a visit to the United States, leading to her subsequent removal from the legislative branch.