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Crackdown on Opposition: Turkish Parliament Lifts Immunity for MPs

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Crackdown on Opposition: Turkish Parliament Lifts Immunity for MPs

Originally appeared at DWN, translated by John T. Sumner exclusively for SouthFront

Last Friday the Turkish parliament voted for the lifting of immunity of more than a quarter of the MPs. 373 out of 500 parliamentarians voted in favor of this advance of the conservative Islamic AKP. The step is primarily aimed against the faction of the pro-Kurdish HDP.

On Friday the Turkish parliament voted with the required two-thirds majority for the lifting of immunity of more than a quarter of MPs, parliament television reported. The step is aimed primarily against the deputies of the opposition party HDP. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses them of being the “extended arm” of the terrorist organization PKK. Erdogan had called to cancel their immunity.

Before the vote an uproar had occurred in plenary. MPs of the main opposition party CHP, during the debate on Friday morning, temporarily left the hall in protest, as CNN Turk broadcast reported. They chanted the slogan: “Turkey is secular and will remain secular.”

According to dpa, the repeal of immunity will take place via a temporary constitutional amendment. In concrete terms, the 373 deputies on Friday opted for suspending a sentence from Article 83 for those 138 members of the National Assembly, charged with crimes. The law states: “A deputy who allegedly committed a crime before or after the election, must not be arrested, interrogated, taken into custody or brought to trial, unless the Assembly decides otherwise.” 138 deputies voted against it.

This clears the way for a prosecution. The HDP fears the arrest of those deputies of its party, mainly charged with allegations of terrorism. MPs of other parties see themselves exposed to different allegations such as “abuse of office”.

The 138 deputies, whose immunity will be revoked, are distributed among all four parties of Parliament: According to the state news agency Anadolu, 27 of them belong to the conservative Islamic AKP (317 seats), 51 to the center-left party CHP (133 seats), 50 to the pro-Kurdish HDP (59 seats), and nine to the far-right MHP (40 seats). In addition, immunity shall be withdrawn from the only MP, who doesn’t belong to any party.

Deputy parliamentary leader of the SPD in the Bundestag, Rolf Mützenich, in advance warned the Turkish parliament against any “self-disempowerment”. If Erdogan would succeed with his plan, “another basic component of democratic development in Turkey will be removed”, Mützenich told rbb Info radio on Friday. Earlier, in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” Bundestag President Norbert Lammert (CDU) had called the Parliament in Ankara to resist against “autocratic ambitions» of Erdogan.

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