ISTANBUL (The Guardian) — A push by the Turkish government to strip parliamentarians of their immunity is a clear attempt by the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to target opposition MPs and risks inflaming tensions in an already highly polarized country, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) has said.
Turkey’s parliament will begin to debate the contentious draft law — which was proposed by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — on Tuesday, with a final vote expected on Friday.
“The [proposed bill] will have a very negative impact on Turkey, and it is very clear that the attempt to strip MPs of immunity targets us,” Selahattin Demirtas, the HDP co-chair, told the Guardian in an interview, warning that there was “a serious risk” of violence increasing in the country as a result.
“Democratic political channels in Turkey are already in great difficulty, and if the bill passes, many people will feel that these channels have been shut completely. The belief in democracy and politics of peace will drop to zero.”
The HDP – a party largely representing Kurds but also encompassing leftwing liberals which emerged on the national political landscape last year – opposes the bill, which aims to remove legislators’ immunity in legal cases.