Turkish opposition parties back code on drugs, rebutting gov’t claims

Turkish opposition parties back code on drugs, rebutting gov’t claims

Turkish opposition parties back code on drugs, rebutting gov’t claims

DHA Photo

Ruling and opposition lawmakers, who took part in a marathon 18.5 hour-long parliamentary session debating six more articles of the controversial security package, had a rare moment of harmony as they agreed on an item on the struggle against illegal drugs.

The unexpected move by the opposition parties rebutted a claim by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which argues that the opposition parties are defending drug dealers – along with Molotov cocktail users - by resisting the draft.

Naci Bostancı, a deputy head of the AKP’s parliamentary group, thanked the other parties for the support, in an extended parliamentary session once again marked by tensions during the debate on other items.

Discussions at the General Assembly continued for so long that some deputies needed medical help. The session that started on Feb. 23 at 2.00 p.m. could only end at 8.30 a.m. on Feb. 24, upon the government’s insistence to continue the session despite huge concerted protests from the opposition parties.

“We have a parliamentary group meeting tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. It is now 4.00 a.m. Our duty to join this group meeting is being blocked. Your attitude is disrespectful of the MHP and other parties that have group meetings,” the deputy group leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) told deputy Parliament Speaker Sadık Yakut, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Each Tuesday, all Turkish political parties represented at parliament hold group meetings, during which their leaders offer their parties’ views on current political issues. As the prime minister and AKP Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu is currently in Hungary for an official visit, the AKP’s group will not convene on Feb. 24.   

At 4.00 a.m. Sadık Yakut handed over his duty to deputy Parliament Speaker Ayşenur Bahçekapılı, again from the AKP. The government is insisting on passing the 132-article security package, despite the determined opposition of the three opposition parties, which all regard the bill as an attempt to turn Turkey into a police state. 

The latest scenes of tension in the General Assembly were relatively calmer than last week’s scuffles, which left a number of lawmakers injured.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers carried a placard in a protest at the long working hours of parliament insisted on by the government, stating, “Drudgery is prohibited: Article 18 of the Constitution.” Meanwhile, three lawmakers suffered from a drop in their blood pressure, meaning that their doctor colleagues at parliament had to administer first aid to them.

Bahçekapılı closed the session after 16th article of the security bill was voted on, but called it back to work at 3.00 p.m. Feb. 24. “This is just beginning. We’ll continue to struggle,” chanted the CHP lawmakers as they left the hall.