Immunity row continues to divide Turkey's politics amid more fistfights

Immunity row continues to divide Turkey's politics amid more fistfights

Immunity row continues to divide Turkeys politics amid more fistfights A parliamentary panel has approved an amendment to strip MPs of their immunity from prosecution with the support of three parties against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) after a brawl broke out between its deputies and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a heated May 2 session. 

The draft amendment was supported by the AKP, Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) while the HDP stood against the move. Deputies from the AKP and the HDP traded blows, prompting members of the HDP to withdraw. 

Bülent Turan, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, told reporters that his party was hoping to discuss and cast the first vote for the motion at the General Assembly on May 16 and to hold the second round of voting on May 18.  

“I hope the panel’s decision will begin to be debated at the General Assembly on Monday, May 16. I also hope that we’ll hold the second round of voting on May 18 even though we will stage the first vote late May 16. This calendar will be approved by the political parties,” he said. 

More than 130 lawmakers will face prosecution over more than 500 cases if the constitutional amendment is in the General Assembly by securing at least 367 of 550 votes. The panel’s approval of the bill that lifts the immunities was widely discussed by the leaders of four political parties during their parliamentary group meetings yesterday. 

“If our friends are dismissed from deputyship and then arrested, no option will be off limits for us. The parliaments are established by the people and not by political parties, and if people want to, they can establish more than one of them,” Selahattin Demirtaş, a co-leader of the HDP, told his parliamentary group. No HDP lawmaker will go to be prosecuted willingly, he added.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu lashed out at the HDP in his address to his AKP group and blamed the party for defending terrorist attacks carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

“No doubt, those who support this villainous terror organization will be touched. There is nowhere left for them to run,” he said. 

CHP backs motion but criticizes AKP

The main opposition CHP also voted in favor of the amendment but also criticized the AKP. CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu accused Davutoğlu of deceiving the people over the immunity issue by limiting the scope of the motion in a way to protect four former ministers who have been allegedly involved in a massive fraud and corruption operation in late 2013. 

“The thief protects the thief and not the honest one. I call on Davutoğlu: If you are an honorable man, if you complain of corruption, if you say you won’t give up chasing theft, then come and lift their immunities,” he said. 

The MHP also supported the move, with leader Devlet Bahçeli saying, “Removing the immunity of those who make terrorist propaganda in parliament.”