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Turkish parliament strips pro-Kurdish lawmakers from membership

TURKEY (OBSERVATORY) – Turkey’s parliament said it had stripped two members of the pro-Kurdish opposition Democratic People’s Party of their membership on Thursday, eroding the party’s strongest strength in parliament two months before early elections.

The move reduced the number of PDP seats, the second largest opposition party in parliament, to 48. In the last elections in November 2015, the party won 59 seats, but 11 members have been stripped of their membership since then.

The latest move by parliament came after the court of deputies, Othman Baydemir, a former spokesman for the party, condemned the insult to the police and Salma Ermak for belonging to a terrorist organization.

The People’s Democratic Party said MP Ermak had entered prison. Turkish media said another member of the party, Gulser Yildirim, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday for her links to terrorism. Seven other pro-Kurdish MPs are still awaiting trial.

The government says the Democratic People’s Party is a party to the PKK, which has waged an armed insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeast for more than three decades. The PKK denies any direct links to the PKK.