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article imageTurkey parliament strips two pro-Kurdish MPs of status

By AFP     Jul 27, 2017 in World

The Turkish parliament on Thursday voted to strip two pro-Kurdish lawmakers of their status of MP on the grounds of "absenteeism", their party said.

Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer Ozturk were removed from office by a large majority.

They are accused of "absenteeism", a party official told AFP.

"This is the first time that a member of parliament has lost his/her seat because of this reason," she added.

"Those who usurp the will of the people by voting under the pretext of" absenteeism, "and those who turn a blind eye to a political purge must prepare themselves to live in shame," the HDP's co-chair, Serpil Kemalbay, said on Twitter.

Local media reported the two were currently abroad to escape trials where they are accused of links to Kurdish militants.

Hurriyet daily said both officials had not been in parliament since October.

Sariyildiz and Ozturk had been on a list published by the government in June of 130 individuals being investigated by prosecutors who could lose Turkish citizenship if they did not return home within three months.

"The role the people have given us, (and) the promise we have made to them to fight, will not change because of an illegitimate decision made by a fascist alliance. We will surely win," Ozturk said on Twitter after the decision.

"We will continue to represent our people. History's most tragicomic dictator will not escape from being tried," Sariyildiz said.

The vote brings the number of HDP MPs who have lost their seats to four, meaning there are now 546 lawmakers in parliament instead of 550.

In the last general election in November 2015, the HDP won 59 seats, becoming the second largest opposition party.

One of those who lost her seat was former co-party leader, Figen Yuksekdag, who was later replaced by Kemalbay.

Yuksekdag has been detained since November, with 10 other HDP lawmakers, including the charismatic co-leader Selahattin Demirtas.

Together with other HDP officials, they are accused of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated as a "terrorist" group by Turkey, the European Union (EU) and the United States.

The HDP fiercely denies being a political front for the PKK. It says it is being targeted because of its opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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