“Homeland Security” Bill Sparks Fresh Fistfight in Turkish Parliament

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Lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and ruling AK Party, scuffle during a debate on a legislation to increase police powers, at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara late February 19, 2015. AFP/Adem Altan.

Published Friday, February 20, 2015

The Turkish parliament descended into fresh chaos on Thursday with lawmakers exchanging punches for a second time over a controversial bill to boost police powers against protesters, local media reported.

Ruling party and opposition lawmakers engaged in fisticuffs while one MP even fell down the stairs as parliament was about to begin a debate on the so-called “homeland security” bill, the private Dogan news agency reported.

The unruly scenes mirrored those seen in the parliament overnight on Tuesday to Wednesday, when five deputies were left injured — including two who suffered head injuries inflicted by a ceremonial gavel.

Opposition parties, strongly opposed to the government-driven bill, earlier this week vowed to stop the draft text from coming to the parliament floor by resorting to delaying tactics such as presenting motions on unrelated subjects.

Before speeches on the bill began on Thursday, opposition parties voiced objections for more than three hours, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on its website.

Heated verbal exchanges between the warring sides quickly escalated into punches and kicks. Caught in the middle of the brawl, lawmaker Orhan Duzgun from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) took a tumble down a few steps.

But Duzgun refused to see a doctor and said: "I am fine. I will stay here and keep on with the struggle," according to Hurriyet.

Turkey's opposition fears the bill, introduced by the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) government, will effectively create a police state under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The bill broadens police powers to carry out searches during protests and gives the police the power to detain people for up to 48 hours without the authorization of a prosecutor.

It also permits the police to use firearms to prevent an attack in a public place against people using Molotov cocktails or similar weapons.

The bill sparked outrage among lawyers and opposition parties and around 3,000 lawyers rallied to the parliament on Monday in protest of the bill.

Levent Gok, of the main opposition CHP party, said it would increase police violence and undermine the right to life, calling on Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to withdraw what he called an "atomic bomb."

Davutoglu on Saturday defended the bill, saying: "We will not leave the streets of this country to vandals and terrorists."
If passed, the law risks jeopardizing the peace process between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK's political wing KCK said in a statement on Sunday that the security bill would put Kurdish peace process "in danger," adding that it would lead to more authoritarianism.

Erdogan initiated the peace process with jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012 with the aim of ending a 30-year-old insurgency by militants pushing for greater Kurdish rights. The conflict has killed 40,000 people, most of them civilian Kurds.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

There is no doubt in my mind that Turkey is becoming a police state. The appointment of Erdogan as President and Davutoğlu as Prime Minister is what is slowly bringing Turkey towards an economic downfall as more world countries are beginning to see the faultiest of changes these two irresponsible leaders are doing.

Since becoming President, Erdogan is turning Turkey into an Islamic state caring little about those who are not. He has ridiculed women and their right to both, dress, and speak and even more ridicule is women laughing. There's no doubt that Erdogan and his puppet Prime Minister, Davutoğlu have become the laughing stock of Europe for the way they are guiding Turkey. Their latest move to give police control power to do whatever for stopping the people to voice their displeasure, is what could well bring total economic chaos along with anarchy to the country. I certainly hope that I am wrong.

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