ANKARA – A parliamentary committee approved late on Monday a controversial bill that strips Turkish lawmakers of immunity from prosecution, paving the way for a law that members of the pro-Kurdish opposition say is designed to target them.
Hours earlier, the committee erupted in chaos as a result of a brawl between members of the ruling AK Party, which had made the proposal, and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The deputies traded kicks and punches and hurled bottled water at each other, a Reuters reporter witnessed, prompting members of the HDP to withdraw. The three other parliamentary parties subsequently approved the draft.
Parliament’s general assembly will now debate and vote on the proposed Constitutional amendment, which would strip immunity from members of the legislature who currently face investigations.
The proposal was prepared after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who founded the AKP, called for members of HDP to face prosecution, accusing them of being an arm of the outlawed militant group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkish MPs are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file “dossiers” against politicians, which can lead to a legal process once they cease to be lawmakers.
The approval of the draft-law comes amid a surge of violence in Turkey’s southeast.
A fist-fight also broke out during a committee meeting last Thursday and five legislators sought medical help.