Turkiye’s parliament speaker on Thursday voiced support for lifting the legislative immunity of lawmakers “engaging in actions against the constitutional order.”

“(Legislative) immunity is a constitutional institution. The reason for its being is so that parliament can carry out its legislative activities in safety,” Mustafa Sentop told reporters at parliament. His remarks came after controversial photos of a parliamentarian posing alongside a PKK terrorist surfaced in recent weeks.

“It isn’t an institution that emerged to protect a member of parliament or give the freedom to break the law,” Sentop added, underlining that “this balance needs to be preserved.”

He asserted that he is in favor of “lifting the immunity of lawmakers who engage in, and are accused of engaging in, severely punishable actions against the constitutional order and the basic legal order, of which the Turkish Grand National Assembly (parliament) is part.”

“The parliament speakership has no direct authority on this matter,” he said, adding that his office could refer files for such cases to a joint parliamentary committee which would then come to a ruling on whether to lift the immunity of a legislator.

Photos of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Semra Guzel with PKK terrorist Volkan Bora were widely circulated in the Turkish media.

Bora was neutralized in 2017 by the Turkish armed forces in Turkiye’s southeastern Adiyaman province.

A report for the lifting of her immunity has been submitted to the Parliament Speaker’s Office, paving the way for her to face terrorism-related charges.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkiye, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkiye, the US, and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

In a case before Turkiye’s highest court, state prosecutors are also seeking the closure of the HDP and political bans for its members, saying that the party is merely the public face of the terrorist PKK.

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