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 Kurds in Turkey furious over lost parliamentary seat

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Kurds in Turkey furious over lost parliamentary seat  23.6.2011   

June 23, 2011

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey, — A leading Kurdish politician warned Turkey of renewed bloodshed Wednesday after the authorities stripped a prominent Kurdish activist of his seat in parliament, Anatolia news agency reported.

“This is a decision to drag Turkey into chaos... to push our people into an environment of conflict,” Ahmet Turk, head of a Kurdish umbrella organisation, said in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in in the Kurdish region in southeast Turkey [Turkey Kurdistan].

“The state, the government and the judiciary are trying to block our efforts to create a democratic political ground” to end the 26-year Kurdish conflict, he charged, according to Anatolia.

The warning followed a decision by the Higher Electoral Board late                 

Ahmet Turk, head of a Kurdish umbrella organisation.

Tuesday to strip veteran Kurdish activist Hatip Dicle of the parliamentary seat he won in the June 12 elections over a terror-related conviction.

Dicle, in jail since 2010 as part of a separate case, had been expected to be freed to assume his seat in parliament.

Also Wednesday, two policemen were killed in a landmine blast in eastern Turkey, security sources said, adding that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was the prime suspect in the attack.

The policemen were on an intelligence mission in a rural area in Tunceli province when their car ran over the landmine.

The renewed tensions followed a PKK statement Monday outlining conditions for the extension of a unilateral truce it had declared in August last year until the June 12 elections.

The statement demanded that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announce an end to military operations against the PKK and that parliament invite jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to peace negotiations.

After his sweeping victory in the polls, Erdogan promised to seek compromise with opposition forces to draw up a new liberal constitution for Turkey.

The Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is seen as close to the PKK,
www.ekurd.netemerged from the polls as a force to be reckoned with, clinching 36 parliamentary seats, a record for the Kurdish minority.

Dicle was among candidates the BDP fielded as independents to get around a 10-percent national threshold that parties are required to pass to enter parliament.

The electoral board however ruled that Dicle was not eligible to stand in the elections because of a 20-month jail sentence he had received under Turkey’s anti-terror law.

The legal jumble arose from the fact that the Appeals Court upheld Dicle’s sentence just four days before the polls, when the list of candidates had been confirmed.

Dicle was convicted over a speech deemed “propaganda for an armed terrorist organisation” — a reference to the PKK.

In 1991, the 57-year-old became of one of the first Kurdish nationalists to win seats in Turkey’s parliament.

The group was banished from parliament in 1994 after their party was banned for links to the PKK.

Dicle and several colleagues — among them iconic activist Leyla Zana, who also won a parliamentary seat in the June 12 polls — ended up in jail before being released in 2004 after 10 years behind bars.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

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 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.

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