Middle East

Turkish parliament debate on lawmakers’ immunity ends in a brawl

Members of Turkey's ruling AK Party and the pro-Kurdish opposition traded kicks and punches and threw water at each other in parliament on Monday, halting talks about lifting parliamentarians' immunity from prosecution.

A previous meeting on the bill was postponed on Thursday when a scuffle broke out. The law, championed by the ruling AKP, would strip members of parliament of their legal immunity.

The Kurdish-rooted Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) says the bill is targeting them and is aimed at suppressing dissent.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who founded the AKP, has called for members of HDP to face prosecution, accusing them of being an extension of the outlawed militant group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Scores of deputies crammed into a committee room to debate the bill, according to a Reuters reporter in parliament. Tempers flared and some deputies started shoving each other. As punches and kicks flew, a few suited parliamentarians launched themselves into the melee from a table.

Others threw water at each other and at least one person could be heard taunting opponents by shouting, "Come on, come on."

Several lawmakers were hurt during the scuffle, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

The brawl last week delayed efforts to pass legislation related to Turkey's deal with the European Union to take migrants in exchange for visa-free travel to the EU and accelerated accession talks.

That legislation was also left unfinished on Monday evening, as some ruling party lawmakers left the general assembly to join their colleagues in the brawling.

Turkish lawmakers 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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