A Turkish constitutional committee meeting on Monday saw Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies walk out of the meeting, singing the anthem of the PKK terrorist group and shouting slogans of "Biji Serok Apo" (Long live Apo), referring to the group's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan, better known as Apo.
The parliamentary constitutional committee was meeting to discuss a proposal to strip deputies of their immunity, which was approved later in the night by unanimous vote by deputies from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
A previous meeting on the bill on Thursday was postponed when a scuffle broke out, but Monday's meeting also saw severe tensions, with some deputies even jumping onto tables, punching and throwing water bottles at each other.
The HDP says the bill targets them and is aimed at suppressing dissent. The request to lift parliamentary immunity was first made concerning HDP members' statements supporting PKK assertions of self-autonomy, made in December 2015 at the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Although the HDP previously claimed that it had no "organic connection" with the PKK, it is known to have links to the group. HDP deputies have drawn anger many times by attending the funeral ceremonies of PKK terrorists, describing them as "martyrs."
As of late March, there were 43 CHP, 41 HDP, 22 AK Party and six MHP deputies who were facing having their parliamentary immunity lifted. Many deputies face multiple charges.
Turkish deputies are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file "dossiers" against politicians, which can lead to a legal process once the lawmaker ceases to be a member of parliament.
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