Members of the Turkish parliament have traded blows over plans to strip parliamentarians of their legal immunity. Footage of the brawl, filmed by a deputy of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), shows MPs throwing punches and bottles at each other.
Some parliamentarians jumped off tables to launch themselves into the melee. The meeting of the constitutional commission of the Turkish National Assembly descended into chaos amid debate over potential changes to legal immunity rules for MPs.
Turkish legislators are currently immune from prosecution while in office, although police can file ‘dossiers’ against an MP which could lead to prosecution once the person leaves parliament.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) believes the plan to change the rule is aimed at stifling dissent against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The country’s president, Tayyip Erdogan – who founded the AKP – has previously called for the prosecution of several People’s Democratic Party MPs, accusing them of supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Dozens of MPs crammed into the committee room to debate the proposed legal changes before the fight broke out. According to local media reports, several parliamentarians were injured in the brawl.