ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s president has approved amendments to the constitution that pave the way for the trials of some 138 legislators, including several pro-Kurdish lawmakers who face terror-related charges.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday ratified the changes which were put forward by the ruling party and finally approved by parliament last month after heated debates that devolved into outright fights.
The changes have been criticized by officials in the European Union and Germany and condemned by Turkish opposition lawmakers. Lasts week, Turkey’s highest court rejected a petition by opposition legislators to strike down the legislation.
Erdogan has accused the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, of being an arm of the outlawed Kurdish PKK rebel group.
The parliamentarians at risk of prosecution fall roughly into three categories: those who are accused of insulting the president, and those under investigation for corruption or other criminal offenses, and those who like HDP members are accused of supporting the PKK.
The Turkish state has been locked in renewed conflict with Kurdish fighters since last summer when a 2 ½-year truce with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, collapsed. Kurdish rebels have set up trenches, barricades and explosives to keep the authorities out of areas where they want autonomy.
The HDP, which backs Kurdish and other minority rights, denies accusations that it is the political front of the PKK. The party has urged the government to end security operations in the southeast and to resume peace efforts.
Turkey and its Western allies consider the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state, a terrorist group.