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Turkish Parliament Strips Status of Two More Pro-Kurdish Lawmakers

FILE - Riot police block the entrance of a pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) office in order to prevent party members from going out for a demonstration in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, Jan. 21, 2018.

Turkey's parliament stripped two lawmakers from a pro-Kurdish party of their parliamentary status on Tuesday for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and sharing a picture of a fighter who fought alongside a Kurdish militia in Syria.

The move further reduced the parliamentary strength of the Democratic People's Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition party in the chamber. The party's seats fell to 50 from 59 it won in the last election, and nine other HDP lawmakers are in detention and could also be stripped of their status.

Ahmet Yildirim, member of parliament for the eastern province of Mus, lost his seat after he was jailed for 14 months for insulting Erdogan.

Ibrahim Ayhan, a representative of the southeastern town of Sanliurfa, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for sharing online the photo of a Turkish citizen who died in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane while fighting Islamic State. He was convicted of sharing terrorist propaganda.

The court rulings to strip the two lawmakers of their status were read out in parliament following their conviction.

"Our people will not accept this!" the HDP said in a tweet.

The government says the HDP is an affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurgency in the largely Kurdish southeast for more than three decades. The HDP denies direct links to the PKK.