Turkish ultra-nationalist AKP-MHP majority parliament revokes immunity of Syriac MP

ANKARA / MARDIN – Turkish parliament has revoked the parliamentarian immunity of Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament for Mardin Tuma Çelik. The vote in parliament on the former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP’s immunity comes after charges were pressed by a woman with initials D.K. The waiving of parliamentarian immunity by Turkish parliament dominated by the ultra-nationalist and Islamist coalition of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), opens the way for a trial in the investigation concerning sexual assault charges.

Tuma Çelik denies all allegations, says his accuser was defaming and blackmailing him, and speaks of a conspiracy against him.

The only Syriac Member of Turkish Parliament since mid-July holds his seat in parliament as an independent MP. Continuation as a HDP MP would harm the party as the HDP, which has a strong Kurdish following, is under attack by the governing ultra-nationalist and Islamist parties. Since the collapse in 2015 of rapprochement talks between the Turkish AKP-led government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the AKP and MHP have re-chosen the path of denialism and militarism prevailing since the official establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Since then a crackdown put HDP party leader and competitor Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars (2016), waived parliamentarian immunity from several HDP MPs on vague terrorist charges, and removed hundreds of Kurdish mayors, and provincial and municipal administrators in Turkey’s south-east.

Today’s revoking of the parliamentarian immunity of Syriac MP Tuma Çelik tends to follow a pattern of consistent Turkish state policies against Syriacs. From the Sayfo Genocide of 1915, the subsequent deportation and expulsion of Syriacs, the denial of basic rights to Syriac schooling and worship, the guided Syriac emigration from Tur Abdin into the European labor market in the 1960s-80s, the targeted expropriations, acts of violence, and pogroms, the tens of “faili meçhul” cases, to the vague terrorist charges against Syriac monks, all have tried to bring an end to Syriac presence and identity in Turkey.

A mere 20 thousand Syriacs remain in Turkey today and Turkey had closed and filed its successful dossier on the Syriacs (Arameans-Chaldeans-Assyrians) in Turkey. But when history comes back to haunt you, you must kill it before it grows…

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