glasovanje-izbori.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

The first round of a vote that could see the immunity of more than 130 members of the Turkish legislature lifted, a move the country's pro-Kurdish party says is aimed at its deputies, is set to go ahead on Tuesday.

Parliamentarians facing potential prosecution come from all four parties in parliament, but the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) would be most disproportionately affected, with about 50 of its 59 members in parliament at risk.

Backers of the move say it is intended to remove immunity from those who have existing police dossiers.

Discussions about the move - which is being organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) - have led to fistfights in the parliament's committees. Debate in the main plenary is also likely to be heated.

"What this motion seeks to destroy is the HDP opposition in the parliament," Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leaders of the party, wrote in a letter to European parliamentarians.

Both leaders face having their immunity lifted and accuse the government of a "totalitarian attack," warning that the moves against the Kurdish minority could lead to even more violence in the country.

Conflict between the state and the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party flared up again in 2015 after a two-year ceasefire collapsed. Many hundreds have since died, with the death toll rising daily, including civilians, members of the security forces and civilians.

"Silencing democratically elected opposition MPs for their political statements is the obstruction of parliament and against democratic principles," a group of European Parliament members from several parties said in an open letter.

"Excluding democratically elected members of the parliament is not the way to deal with the Kurdish problem."

The government says the proposed bill would only target those who have police proceedings ongoing against them.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a founder of the AKP - which has a majority of 317 seats in 550 member parliament - has repeatedly called for the immunity of HDP deputies to be lifted, accusing them of cooperating with the banned PKK.

"Neither we nor this nation can be expected to make an effort to tolerate deputies who do nothing but act as a mouthpiece for the separatist terrorist organization," he said in February, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The AKP will need the support of other groups in parliament to push through the removal of immunity, a constitutional issue, without having to go to a referendum.

Turkish media has said the far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is staunchly anti-Kurd, will likely come on board. The centre-left People's Republican PartY (CHP) could see some members vote in favour, though the party's chief has an existing dossier.

The final vote is not expected until Friday at the earliest, but could be pushed back as far as May 24.

Latest news

Syrian forces close in on city held by Turkish-backed rebels

Syrian government forces on Sunday seized a town from the Islamic State extremist militia near the northern city of al-Bab already under the control of Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian state media and monitors reported.

At least 90 Christian families escape Sinai attacks

At least 90 families reached Egypt's Ismailiya governorate, after escaping targeted killings by a local Islamic State militia in northern Sinai in recent days, an official at the Coptic Orthodox Church said Sunday.

40,000 Croats suffer from anorexia and bulimia

More than 40,000 Croatians, mostly girls and young women aged between 12 and 30, suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder and that number is growing each year, experts at the centre for eating disorders BEA have reported.

Iranian ex-president Ahmadinejad praises Trump

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote a personal letter to Donald Trump in which he praised the US president and wished him well in his tenure, local media reported Sunday.

Russians honour slain opposition leader Nemtsov in Moscow rally

A demonstration on the second anniversary of the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov drew thousands of people to the streets of Moscow on Sunday.

Iran President Rowhani to run for second term

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is to stand for a second four-year term in office, Vice-President Hussein-Ali Amiri announced Sunday.

Five injured as car hits pedestrians in south-east London

A man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and drink-driving on Sunday after five people were injured by a car he was driving in south-east London, police said.

Iraq retakes first neighbourhood in western Mosul from Islamic State

For the first time Iraqi forces have retaken control of a neighbourhood in the the western section of Mosul as they battle to drive the Islamic State group from their last key Iraqi stronghold, a senior commander said Sunday.

Dutch floating sheerleg arrives in Sibenik

The Italian tugboat Megara towed in the Sibenik naval port on Sunday the 72-metre long Dutch floating sheerleg "Taklift 7" which will lift a mega-yacht from a synchrolift in the NCP Repair Shipyard.

16 killed, 50 injured in truck accident in north-eastern India

At least 16 people were killed Sunday and 50 injured when the truck they were travelling in overturned on a curve and hit a barrier on the side of the road, police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya said.

Trump's wall threatens rich wildlife along US-Mexican border

A continuous wall of the kind planned along the US-Mexican border could be an impenetrable barrier for many wild animals already affected by existing fences.

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.