Turkish President Calls on ‘Swift’ End to Immunity for Pro-Kurdish MPs

Turkish President Calls on ‘Swift’ End to Immunity for Pro-Kurdish MPs
Wed Mar 16, 2016 18:20:46

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the country’s parliament to redefine Ankara’s anti-terrorism law and “swiftly” end the immunity from prosecution for pro-Kurdish lawmakers.

The Turkish premier on Wednesday accused pro-Kurdish lawmakers of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) of “inciting terrorism,” during a speech at the presidential palace in the capital, Ankara.

"We must swiftly finalize the issue of immunities. Parliament must take steps on this issue swiftly," Erdogan said.

The remarks came after a senior official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said Turkey was working on widening the "terror crime" definition to include those who use the media to support or praise acts of violence.

Erdogan has repeatedly accused HDP lawmakers of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since the 1980s.

"I no longer see as legitimate political actors the members of a party which is operating as a branch of the terrorist organization," Erdogan added.

The Turkish parliament has set up a committee to consider lifting the immunity of five HDP lawmakers, including party leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, to pave the way for them to be put on trial over their alleged call for Kurdish autonomy.

According to Turkish media reports, a simple majority in a parliament vote is enough to strip the lawmakers of immunity.

Earlier, Turkish police detained nearly 50 people in a major anti-terror operation aimed at finding suspects linked to the March 13 bombing attack in Ankara, which left 34 people dead and 125 wounded.

This comes as tensions have been on the rise between the Turkish government and PKK militants over the military’s campaign in several regions with a majority Kurdish population in the past few months, following a number of deadly bombing attacks in the country last year.

PKK militants, who accuse the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh terrorist group, which is operating in Syria and Iraq, have engaged in a series of attacks against Turkish police and security forces; Press TV reported.

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