Amendment targeting Kurdish legislators sparks brawl in Turkish parliament

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A brawl erupted in Turkish parliament on May 2 after a committee approved an amendment clearing the way for the prosecution of pro-Kurdish lawmakers on terror-related charges.

The amendment, which still requires approval from the full assembly, was proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party, which accused the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of being an arm of the outlawed Kurdish rebels.

A brawl broke out in Turkish parliament on May 2 during a constitutional reforms debate. /Reuters
A brawl broke out in Turkish parliament on May 2 during a constitutional reforms debate. /Reuters

Pro-Kurdish legislators walked out of the May 2 committee meeting following the brawl, which left one person with a dislocated shoulder and a second with a bloodied nose.

Video filmed inside the committee room showed people throwing water bottles at each other and engaging in fist-fights. One legislator jumped into the fight from a table top and another was seen kicking an opponent.

Pro-Kurdish lawmaker Mithat Sancar was heard saying that the HDP “would not be part of this theater that is being staged,” before he and his colleagues stormed out.

The HDP, which backs Kurdish and other minority rights, denies accusations that it is the political arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Erdogan administration considers a terrorist organization.

Critics say the amendment is aimed primarily at the HDP and its two co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, who face possible prosecution for making statements last year in support of calls for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey.

On May 3, both the AKP and HDP blamed each other for the brawl in parliament.

“They are attacking our legislators in order to prevent the process,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of the AKP said. “They are trying to show parliament as a place for fighting, chaos and deadlock.”

Pro-Kurdish leader Demirtas said of the ruling party: “They are trying to shape Turkey through violence, arms, bullying.”