Turkey Strips MPs of Immunity, Setting Stage for Crackdown on Opposition

667 Legal Cases Already Lined Up Against Opposition MPs

by Jason Ditz, May 20, 2016

With 376 voting in favor in the Turkish parliament, a constitutional amendment which strips all members of parliament of their legal immunity has been passed without the need for a public referendum, setting the stage for promised crackdowns against opposition MPs by the Erdogan government.

President Erdogan has repeatedly accused the HDP, an opposition party centered in the ethnic Kurdish southeast, of “terrorism” for speaking out against his military crackdown against the cities in their districts. Reports are that 667 legal cases are already pending, mostly against the HDP but with some targeting other opposition MPs, just waiting for Erdogan to sign off on the new amendment.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas told the press he is going to challenge to decision, saying the government will have to “take us by force.” Since Erdogan unveiled the amendment in a speech condemning freedom and democracy, and promising to sic the military on the HDP, that appears to have been the whole idea.

European officials expressed concern about the new measure, with German officials warning Turkey against using the law to prosecute MPs for criticizing the government. Since Turkey has already been arresting journalists and university professors for doing so, it’s probably going to be the same for the opposition.

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