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Turkish Parliament Changes Bylaws

  • VOA News

Turkey's President and the leader of ruling Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, July 25, 2017.

The Turkish parliament has approved a series of changes to its bylaws, which critics say aim to further curtail opposition voices.

The amendments cover a range of issues from what the parliament speaker can wear to how long a bill can be debated.

The government insists the changes will render parliament more effective. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is accused of increasing authoritarianism, has long criticized the opposition for allegedly obstructing the work of parliament.

The changes come as Turkey is engaged in an unprecedented crackdown on the alleged perpetrators of last year's failed military coup, which human rights group say has been broadened to include all government opponents.

More than 50,000 people have been arrested and over 110,000 have been fired from their government jobs.

Two lawmakers stripped of power

Also Thursday, the parliament voted to strip two pro-Kurdish lawmakers of their status of Member of Parliament on the grounds of “absenteeism.”

The vote brings the number of Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) lawmakers who have lost their seats to four.

In the last general election in November 2015, the HDP won 59 seats, becoming the second largest opposition party.

Certain words banned

With the changes to the parliament's bylaws, legislators will now be punished for using certain words, including “Kurdistan” or “Kurdish province” — terms frequently used by HDP legislators.

Nationalists who backed the amendments regard the terms as an expression of separatist sentiment.

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