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 Turkey: Pro-Kurdish DTP to consider pulling out of Parliament if party is closed

 Source : Turkish.Todays.Zaman | Agencies
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Turkey: Pro-Kurdish DTP to consider pulling out of Parliament if party is closed  31.10.2008

October 31, 2008

ANKARA, —  As the Constitutional Court considers whether to close down the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), party officials say the DTP is mulling its own course of action: whether to withdraw from Parliament.

"Such a move would be turning point for us and for Turkish politics," said Bengi Yildiz, DTP Batman deputy. He said that if the court decides to close the party or ban its members from political activity, DTP leaders would consider pulling out of Parliament completely.

The DTP's possible departure from Parliament might not lead to general or interim elections for the party's seats, which would be vacant, but it could create other problems— for example, the legitimacy of Parliament regarding representation.

Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals Abdurrahman Yalçinkaya applied to the Constitutional Court in November 2007 and requested the closure of the DTP. He claimed that DTP members' actions and statements run counter to the independence of the state and the indivisible integrity of its territory and nation.

The indictment also asked for 221 members of the DTP, including eight deputies, to be banned for five years from membership in a political party.

Yildiz, who is responsible for coordinating the party's response to the closure case, said it is not clear when the Constitutional Court will announce its verdict, which creates uncertainty. 

Bengi Yildiz, DTP Batman deputy

Ahmet Turk, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party
"We think that there is no reason to close the party. But its closure will lead to pessimism. The Kurds will think that they're not wanted in Parliament. Those who are trying to close the DTP are aiming to end Kurdish hopes for democracy," Yildiz said.

He added that others in the party will consider resigning from Parliament if the eight DTP deputies are banned from politics.

"Of course, the party's executives will evaluate it, if and when the day comes," he said. "We know very well that in the case of closure and banning of our colleagues from politics, the Kurdish electorate will ask us to leave Parliament."

But Ümit Firat, a Kurdish intellectual, argues that the Kurdish population would not want to lose its representation in Parliament. Firat recalled that the Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) actually did not want the DTP to be in Parliament but could not resist the Kurds' demands.

"I am not sure if the PKK will be able to control the population that depends on it if it forces the other DTP deputies to resign. Despite the fact it does not want a strong presentation in Parliament, when the time comes, it will think about totally pulling out of Parliament," he said.

Yildiz said that if the DTP is closed, it would be the last straw for pro-Kurdish politics, and they will be convinced that it is not possible to be in Parliament.

"Even those who have been in politics from the beginning have difficulty remembering the names and the order of the other parties that were closed down, and it will be no use for go down the same road and establish new parties," Yildiz said.

The DTP is the sixth pro-Kurdish political party to have been founded in the past 16 years; all of its predecessors were outlawed by the Constitutional Court except the last one, the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), which disbanded itself to merge with the DTP, but the court case against it continues.

Yildiz said that, as in the past, if they form a new party after the DTP, the result will be the same: The new one will be closed, too.

"Right now, we are only demanding and saying the minimum of what we would like. It is impossible for us to say or act less than this. … If we are not allowed to say what we want, what is the use of being in Parliament?" Yildiz asked. He added that they already have difficulties representing themselves in Parliament.

He argued that the verdict on the DTP will be an indicator for them on the limits of the court's tolerance:

Akin Birdal, deputy from Diyarbakir for the DTP and the former chairman of the Human Rights Association (IHD), did not deny that they are discussing withdrawing from Parliament, but he said they will make a decision when the time comes.

The Constitutional Court is widely expected to shut down the DTP and ban eight of its deputies from political activity. In addition, the decision might send four DTP deputies, Deputy Chairwoman Emine Ayna, Istanbul deputy Sabahat Tuncel -- who was released from jail on charges of membership in the terrorist PKK when she was elected to Parliament -- Van deputy Özdal Üçel and Yildiz, to prison.

All of these deputies are protected by parliamentary immunity from various charges of terrorism and separatism. DTP Mardin deputy Ahmet Türk, Diyarabkir deputy Aysel Tugluk, Bingöl deputy Ibrahim Binici and Batman deputy Ayla Akad Ata also face political bans in the Constitutional Court case.

According to the law, if the eight deputies are banned and if the other DTP deputies resign from Parliament, the General Assembly must approve their resignations. If the General Assembly gives its approval, 21 more seats in Parliament would be vacant in addition to the three that are already vacant. The minimum number of vacancies needed to hold an interim election is 28.

Yildiz pointed out that if they pull out from Parliament and that if interim elections appear on the agenda, they will boycott the elections, too.

"There is no reason to play the game by the same rules," he said.

Although the possibility of interim elections would be low if the DTP withdraws, Parliament's legitimacy in terms of representation would be questionable.

After the general elections in 2007, one of the praises for the new Parliament was its representative power. Participation in the elections was high, and different political views are reflected in Parliament.

DTP says criticism distorts content of book

Leaders of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) issued a statement yesterday regarding criticism of a book titled "The Democratic Solution Project Regarding the Kurdish Question," which has sparked an adverse reaction in Parliament. The DTP figures said that criticism skewed the content of the book, which was sent to deputies.

"The DTP has been accused of a prejudiced approach of 'requesting [the creation of] a federation' [within Turkey]. But there is no approach envisioning a federation in the DTP's program or its discourse or any project it has set forth." DTP Muş deputy Sirri Sakik said the book had been criticized without being read. "There is no damage to the state's [integrity] in the book, nor to its oneness, nor to its flag," he said. He explained the goal of dividing Turkey into 20 to 25 regions and electing governors by the people by saying: "This is not a recommendation for the Kurdish geography alone. This is a recommendation that concerns all quarters of Turkey. It's designed to ensure the administration's [ability] to make [proper] decisions there." Ankara Today's Zaman

The Turkish authorities seek to ban the only pro-Kurdish DTP party, the DTP demanded more rights for the Kurdish minority and autonomy for the Kurds living in the mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Since 1984 the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) took up arms for self-rule in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, todayszaman com | Agencies

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    


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