ANKARA – Turkey’s main opposition staged a sit-in on Thursday to protest against proposed changes to parliamentary procedure that it says will restrict lawmakers’ ability to challenge President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party in the assembly.
The move comes amid mounting concerns among opposition parties, human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies that Erdogan is using a crackdown on suspected supporters of last year’s failed military coup to stifle all dissent.
Members of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the planned changes – which include shortening the time allotted to discuss bills and punishment for lawmakers who make “illegal references” to Turkey’s regions in parliament – would limit their freedom of expression.
Under the changes, lawmakers can vote to ban for three sessions fellow parliamentarians who use expressions such as “Kurdistan” or “Kurdish provinces”. Members of the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition frequently use the terms in reference to the largely Kurdish southeast, angering Turkish nationalists.