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3 May, 2016 05:02

Violent brawl at Turkish parliament as MPs ‘debate’ constitutional amendments (VIDEO)

A Turkish constitutional committee meeting descended into chaos when a verbal argument between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and oppositional Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) spiraled out of control into a brawl.

The feud is believed to have been sparked by a comment from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ who blamed the pro-Kurdish HDP for instigating a similar scuffle on Thursday. The remark immediately drew the ire of the HDP’s MP Garo Paylan who labeled it “slander”.

The deputies who were captured on video can be seen exchanging punches, standing on the tables and throwing water bottles at one other.

At the center of the debate stand proposed amendments to the country’s constitution, aimed at stripping Turkish lawmakers of legal immunity. The motion is viewed by the HDP as an attempt by the authorities to pave the way for the prosecution of opposition MPs. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accusing HDP of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In its turn, HDP blames PKK for an ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish population in the southeast of the country which the government has been conducting since August 2015. 

The previous round of punches prevented lawmakers from debating the legislation, meaning the meeting had been rescheduled for Monday. The Thursday row took a violent turn after LHDP rejected the amendments and demanded that the government withdraw forces from the embattled country’s southeast where it imposes strict curfews and allegedly deploys heavy artillery against the civilian population in a hunt for Kurdish militia fighters.