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Thousands of members of Turkey’s Bar Associations march to the Parliament with a banner that reads “The state of law, not state of police!” in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

Turkey Security Bill Latest Fault Line Between Erdogan and Opponents

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Two parliamentary brawls in as many days, filibusters, street demonstrations and a courthouse sit-in have characterized the controversy over a new domestic security bill that Turkish legislators look set to make law. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) insists the security “package” is up to European Union standards and needed urgently. Critics argue it will create the legal conditions for a police state.

They point in particular to two immediate concerns. First, Kurdish national leaders have warned the law could scuttle the government’s high-stakes peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to end the three-decade insurgency that has killed some 40,000 people. They see the law’s curbs on the right to demonstrate as particularly problematic in the context of ongoing talks, and demand it be amended for negotiations to continue. Second, the law could greatly complicate general elections scheduled for June. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted that the law must be passed to keep street violence, like last October’s deadly protests over what Kurds saw as Turkey’s inaction against the siege of Kobani by militants of the self-declared Islamic State, from marring the poll. ...

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