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Caught On Tape - Erdogan's 'Kingmaker' Bill Sparks Mass Brawl In Turkish Parliament

Chairs flew and lawmakers traded punches as AP reports a brawl in the Turkish Parliament over a new security bill (dubbed the 'kingmaker') has forced the spotlight on mounting suspicions that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's real goal is to hand himself more tools to crush dissent. Five lawmakers were injured early Wednesday in the fight that broke out as opposition leaders tried to delay a debate on the legislation.

 

 

The Fight...

 

The Aftermath...

 

More seriously, As AP reports,

The government says the measures to give police heightened powers to break up demonstrations are aimed at preventing violence such as the deadly clashes that broke out last year between Kurds, supporters of an Islamist group and police. Critics say that the new measures are part of a steady march toward blocking mass demonstrations that threaten Erdogan's iron grip over Turkish politics.

 

The bill would expand police rights to use firearms, allow them to search people or vehicles without a court order and detain people for up to 48 hours without prosecutor authorization. Police would also be permitted to use firearms against demonstrators who hurl Molotov cocktails. Demonstrators who cover their faces with masks or scarves during violent demonstrations could face four years in prison.

 

Crucially, the measures would give governors — not just prosecutors and judges — the right to order arrests.

 

In defending the bill, Erdogan said it was "aimed at protecting social order and social peace." Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu dismissed accusations that the measures will violate civil liberties, saying the goal is to protect society: "No one will be able to demonstrate with Molotov cocktails," he said over the weekend.

 

Metin Feyzioglu, the head of the Turkish Bar Association, said that giving local governors even limited powers to order arrests without going court orders is tantamount to martial law. "This is an extremely dangerous development," he said.

 

In recent years, Turkey has curbed media freedoms, cracked down on critical social media postings and prosecuted hundreds of people who took part in violent mass protests against the government in 2013 that centered on Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Square. In one case, Turkish prosecutors are seeking possible jail time for a former television presenter who posted a tweet suggesting a cover-up in a government corruption scandal. A Turkish schoolboy was also charged for publicly criticizing Erdogan over the scandal — falling afoul of a law against insulting the president.

 

"Erdogan is aware that he is not going to be able to achieve his goals through purely democratic means," said Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based analyst with the Institute for Security and Development Policy. "If you are trying to stop people from expressing their opinions, it is a sign that you are not accountable."

 

...

 

"We will do all in our power to stop the bill," said pro-Kurdish party leader Selahattin Demirtas. "We will act together with all opposition legislators and cause a gridlock in parliament that will last for months."

 

But few believe the opposition effort will succeed: Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party has a strong majority in Parliament — and is likely to eventually find a way to ram through the bill.

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