No end in sight to immunity row: Turkish PM

No end in sight to immunity row: Turkish PM

No end in sight to immunity row: Turkish PM

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Opinions have continued to differ wildly between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition parties over the amendment to lift parliament members’ immunities, with both sides exchanging accusations and allegations.

Most recently, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has claimed the Kurdish-problem focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) shifted their stance after his AKP moved to table a provisional change in the constitution that would allow parliament to lift the immunities of HDP lawmakers and others for one time only.

“From the moment we presented the amendment regarding the lifting of immunities to parliament, their style began to change,” Davutoğlu said on April 18, at a speech in Ankara where employment was offered to families of soldiers killed, veterans and families of veterans by drawing lots.

“They say, ‘Ditch wars threatened public security and escalated violence,’” Davutoğlu said, referring to an alleged quote HDP’s co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş. “This nation has seen your [the HDP’s] true face,” he added. Davutoğlu, along with President Erdoğan accuse the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demirtaş’s remarks delivered in Berlin last week were only reported by Cihan News Agency, a pro-government news outlet. The HDP has swiftly denied the report and said it was a misquotation.

Speaking at a party convention in eastern province of Muş on April 18, Demirtaş vowed that their party has not been deterred by threats on their immunities, while criticizing the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for declaring support for the constitutional amendment proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“The main opposition should not forget that it will go down the history like this: If our immunities are lifted, they will not say ‘The AKP lifted it,’ they will say ‘The CHP lifted it.’ Because without votes from the CHP, votes from the AKP and the MHP [the Nationalist Movement Party] don’t suffice [to pass the amendment],” Demirtaş said.

CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Özgür Özel blamed Davutoğlu for acting lie a “fake-tough-guy” by not imposing the amendment on all, at a press conference at parliament.

“If you say ‘Bring it on,’ then you should say it first for yourself and your ministers. Mr. Davutoğlu’s manner is a fake-tough-guy manner,” Özel said.

Last week, while announcing support for the proposal, the CHP also said it will exert efforts during debates to amend the proposal in a way that would extend to former AKP ministers Egemen Bağış, Zafer Çağlayan, Muammer Güler and Erdoğan Bayraktar, who were the subject of fraud and corruption allegations in December 2013.

Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency on the same day, HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen said if the immunities are lifted as expected, “virtual arrests” could begin within few months.

“There are [HDP] deputies charged in cases against the KCK,” Bilgen said, referring to the PKK’s umbrella group, the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). “It is being said that these cases will be advanced in June; that is to say, virtual arrests will take place within one or two months,” he said.