One of many planned constitutional changes in Turkey, all designed to increase President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s already virtually unchecked power, the effort to strip members of parliament of their legal immunity sparked an ugly brawl in parliament, with several MPs reportedly injured.
As with most nations with an elected parliament, Turkish law grants lawmakers considerable immunity from prosecution. This is meant to prevent the ruling government from using its power to persecute elected MPs they don’t get along with.
As you might imagine in Turkey, where Erdogan is nationalizing the press and arresting journalists and professors as “terrorists” for publicly criticizing him, the effort to remove immunity is aimed squarely at political enemies from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The HDP is seen as a pro-minority party, and virtually all of their MPs are from the ethnic Kurdish southeast, where the government is carrying out a highly criticized military campaign. Erdogan has condemned the HDP as “terrorists,” and has openly promised to send Turkey’s military after members of parliament associated with that party as soon as immunity is stripped, presenting that as part of the ongoing war against the Kurds.
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