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 Turkish PM woos Kurds ahead of vote

 Source : AFP | Agencies  
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Turkish PM woos Kurds ahead of vote  22.2.2009  

February 22, 2009

DIYARBAKIR, Kurdish Southeastern region of Turkey, Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday launched a campaign to wrest control of the country's biggest Kurdish-dominated city in local elections next month, pledging better hospitals, cheap housing and more investment.

Security was tight for Erdogan's visit to Diyarbakir, the regional capital of the mainly Kurdish southeast (Turkey Kurdistan),
www.ekurd.netwhich the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking to win from the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the country's main Kurdish party, in the March 29 elections.

The AKP hopes that such a win would provide a chance to solve a decades-long armed conflict by separatist Kurdish rebels that has wreaked havoc in the impoverished region.

Police were out in full force over fears of violent demonstrations by supporters of the rebels, but there were only a few incidents of small groups burning tyres and shouting anti-AKP slogans far from where Erdogan was addressing a crowd of some 20,000 people.

A number of demonstrators were detained, a local security source said, but gave no figure.

In a speech often interrupted by applause, Erdogan pledged to bring better services to Diyarbakir and underlined government plans to pump billions of dollars into infrastructure projects in the region.

"A new era will begin on March 29.... On that day, Diyarbakir will finally have the services it deserves. Our only aim is to serve the people," Erdogan told the crowd gathered despite rain and chilly temperatures.

Erdogan has on several occasions publicly accused the DTP of failing to do a proper job of running the city and has also slammed the party for failing to condemn the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels fighting for self-rule in the southeast.

The DTP is currently facing a possible ban for links with Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels. The party,
www.ekurd.netwhich urges a peaceful resolution to the conflict, denies the allegations.

Erdogan also called on the Kurdish community to shun support for the PKK and work with his government to increase democracy in the region.

"Let us protect this republic together.... Everyone should know that violence and terrorism are the enemies of rights and liberties," he said.

Over 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.                       

Security was tight for Erdogan's visit to Diyarbakir, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) inside the bus.

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.

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.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara and 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, AFP  | 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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