Saturday, May 21, 2016

Turkish parliament lifts immunity of HDP-members

The Turkish Parliament has approved a controversial constitutional amendment to lift the immunity of 139 MPs. Deputies from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are now expected to be arrested on terror-related charges and an anticipated wave of social unrest.
Some 376 out of 550 deputies voted in favor of the motion in the second and final vote on May 20, comfortably passing the required 367 majority to have it approved without the need to go to a referendum. The first and second clauses of the amendment were accepted in the second round of voting, with 373 and 374 votes respectively.
Proposed by the 316-seat ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and heavily backed by the 40-seat Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the draft received 357 votes in the first round of vote as the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP deputies did not vote in favor.
However, it is believed that around 20 lawmakers from the CHP voted in favor of the motion in the second round in order not to cause a referendum that would jeopardize the societal order.

Bülent Turan, deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, congratulated all lawmakers for the approval of the move and said some CHP lawmakers voted in favor of it because they were concerned about going to a referendum. “It’s not appropriate to compare today’s move with 1990s,” Turan said, in reference to the arrest of four Kurdish lawmakers after their immunities were removed at parliament.
HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş repeated their decision that no HDP lawmaker would go voluntarily to the office of prosecutors to give testimony. DP also said that it would take the issue to the Constitutional Court.
Just before the conclusion of the vote in parliament, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech in Black Sea province of Rize that the people did not want “criminal” lawmakers in the legislature, so he was expecting lawmakers vote in favor of the move.
With the approval of the move, a legal process on 139 lawmakers with 682 different dossiers will begin after Erdoğan’s approval of the bill and its publication in the Official Gazette. The number of the dossiers will increase to 787 as the remaining 105 cases will be sent to parliament. More than 200 of these dossiers concern terror-related crimes, according to Justice Ministry officials.

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