Turkey Parliament to Debate Contentious Security Bill

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The Turkish parliament Tuesday was to start debating a contentious security bill boosting police powers which activists fear will create an effective police state under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The so-called "homeland security reform" bill was submitted to parliament by the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) after deadly pro-Kurdish protests in October.

With the opposition threatening to hold up the work of parliament in protest at the bill, the opening of debates has been postponed repeatedly over the last weeks.

However the official Anatolia news agency reported that the bill was on parliament's agenda and the debate would go ahead later Tuesday.

The bill broadens police powers to carry out searches during protests and gives the police the power to detain people for up to 48 hours without the authorization of a prosecutor.

It also permits the police to use firearms to prevent an attack in a public place against people using Molotov cocktails or similar weapons.

The bill sparked outrage among lawyers and opposition parties and around 3,000 lawyers rallied to the parliament on Monday in protest at the bill.

Levent Gok, of the main opposition CHP party, said it would increase police violence and undermine the right to life, calling on Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to withdraw what he called an "atomic bomb."

"Hey, prime minister -- this is an atomic bomb, it will explode in your hand," he said.

Davutoglu on Saturday defended the bill, saying: "We will not leave the streets of this country to vandals and terrorists."

Its introduction followed violent protests in southeastern Turkey and Istanbul that left scores of people dead on October 6 and 7 over Turkey's Syria policy.

If passed, the law risks jeopardizing the peace process between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK's political wing KCK said in a statement on Sunday that the security bill would put Kurdish peace process "in danger," adding that it would lead to more authoritarianism.

Parliament on December 2 had already passed separate legislation expanding police and court powers. Human Rights Watch has expressed concerns over the security bill, accusing the government of "eroding human rights and the rule of law."

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