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 Prominent Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Firat dies in Ankara

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Prominent Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Firat dies in Ankara  30.9.2009  


Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Fırat

Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Fırat died on Tuesday at an Ankara hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for leukemia. photo:

September 30, 2009

ANKARA, Turkey, — Famous Kurdish politician Abdulmelik Fırat, who had been hospitalized on Monday for deteriorating health due to complications from leukemia, died in Ankara on Tuesday.

The 75-year-old Fırat died in the intensive care unit of Güven Hospital in Ankara, where he was taken early this week. As his son, Abdulmelik Firat, previously told reporters Fırat's doctors said that Fırat's lungs had lost 60 percent of their function. In addition to leukemia, Fırat also suffered a diabetic coma in June, which caused serious brain damage.

About Abdulmelik Firat


A grandson of the Kurdish rebel leader Sheikh Said, Fırat's family history is full of persecution, exile and executions. A revered sheikh of the Nakshibendi sufi order and originally from the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Sheikh Said was captured in 1925 and hanged with many other rebel leaders. His family members were sent into exile and were given the last name "Fırat" (“Euphrates”)

With Turkey's transition to a multi-party regime, Firat became a deputy from the Democrat Party (DP) in 1957 and was sent to prison following the May 27, 1960 military coup d'état,
www.ekurd.netwhich resulted in the execution of the prime minister and two other ministers. Firat was also sentenced to execution, but his sentence was later commuted to imprisonment.

In 1991, he entered politics under the True Path Party (DYP), but subsequently left the party because he did not agree with its policies toward Kurds. He was sent to prison again for two months on charges of helping the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

A harsh critic of the PKK, he remained on the political scene and finally established the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR) in 2001. He left three years ago because of health problems and handed over the post of his party's presidency to Sertaç Bucak. Firat also lent his support for the government's recent democratic initiative to settle Turkey's long-standing Kurdish issue.


In early September 2009, Firat says he disagrees with assertions that the democratic initiative will divide the country. He emphasizes that Turks need the initiative as badly as Kurds do, noting that the 25-year-old problem of the Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the 80 years of wrong policies implemented by the Turkish state were intertwined. Fırat said that despite these factors, on the public level Turks and Kurds have still been able to live together, notably because of their common identity as Muslims.

Both the Kurdish problem and the PKK will be solved by the government's initiative, he said, and the initiative has the potential to change mentalities that have been holding Turkey back. Firat also said the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) needed to become involved in the solution to prevent them from damaging the initiative.

Since 1984 the PKK took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan) which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

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 as '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.

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.

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