Leyla Zana. File photo: AA/Getty Images
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Controversial HDP deputy Leyla Zana was dismissed from the Turkish legislature on Thursday for missing sessions, a decision rejected by her party.
In its Thursday session, the Turkish parliament voted to dismiss Zana for missing 212 sessions over a seven-month period in 2016-2017.
HDP immediately responded to the decision in a tweet.
“The dismissal of Leyla Zana from the parliament is seen by our people as nothing. Leyla Zana is the voice of peace, the will of people, she is our deputy!”
The decision came after judicial and constitutional commissions from the parliament prepared a report on Zana, asking for her dismissal. The report claimed that she missed 212 consecutive days between October 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017.
Of 324 deputies in attendance, 302 voted in favor of dismissing Zana and 22 opposed it, according to the Turkish NTV.
Before the vote, HDP had said that she was made an MP by the will of the people, and only the “people can take it away.”
The first Kurdish woman in the Turkish parliament, Zana has stirred up controversy several times.
Before taking her parliamentary oath on November 17, 2015 as the deputy for Agri after the most recent elections, she cheered in Kurdish “biji aşit,” meaning “long live peace.”
She also changed the wording of the oath to "the nation of Turkey" instead of the "Turkish nation."
In 1991, she defied Turkish law when she recited the final portion of her oath in Kurdish.
"I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people," she said, earning herself a 10-year prison term.
The Turkish parliament has harsh punishments for speaking in Kurdish or using the word ‘Kurdistan’ in the legislature. HDP’s spokesperson Osman Baydemir was temporarily barred from the parliament in December for doing so.
In 1995, the European Parliament awarded Zana the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought “for her courageous defence of human rights and commitment to forging a peaceful, democratic resolution to conflicts between the Turkish Government and its Kurdish population.”