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