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 Turkey passes bill to shield secret intelligence agents from prosecution over links to KCK-PKK

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Turkey passes bill to shield secret intelligence agents from prosecution over links to KCK-PKK  17.2.2012  

Turkey passes bill to shield secret intelligence agents from prosecution over links to Kurdish PKK rebels. Photo: Reuters

Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan with Turkey's intelligence MIT chief Hakan Fidan, Photo: AA See Related Links
February 17, 2012

ANKARA, — Turkey's parliament on Friday passed a controversial bill to shield intelligence agents from prosecution after several refused a prosecutor's summons over their contacts with Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Parliament hastily passed the bill, backed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in the early hours of Friday.

The new law requires the prime minister to authorise any court cases against intelligence agents for their work on missions controlled directly by the Turkish premier.

The bill was passed in the wake of a case involving several members of Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) having contacts with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Prosecutors had summoned several MIT members, including its current chief Hakan Fidan and former head Emre Taner, for questioning over the contacts.

Prosecutors alleged that the MIT members had exceeded their authority when they broached the topic of a political settlement with the rebels, who have been fighting the government for nearly 30 years.

When the agents refused to show up for the questioning the prosecutor who issued the summons, Sadrettin Sarikaya, ordered the agents' arrest. He was then pulled from the case.

MIT chief Fidan had secret talks with representatives of the PKK in 2010 in Oslo. Recordings of the Oslo talks between MIT and the Kurdish rebels were leaked in the media last year, sparking outrage among opposition politicians.

They accused the ruling AKP party of having abandoned the official position of no contact with the PKK.

Since 2009, some 700 people have been arrested over alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures. Kurdish media puts the figure at around 3,500.

The KCK-trial began on October 18, 2010 when a Turkish court began the trial of 152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders, accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdish PKK rebels.

Over 7748 people were taken into custody and over 3895 persons were arrested in the scope of KCK operations during the past nine months, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party announced. Dozens of BDP executives and employees are still in prison.

At least 567 people were detained by police from 10 December 2011 to 3 January 2012. Among the detainees, including mayors, students, children, human rights activists and union members, over 350 were remanded in custody and sent to prison.

On February 4, 2012, members from the Swedish Parliament nominate imprisoned Turkish publisher and human rights defender Ragıp Zarakolu who is in jail for KCK links for the Nobel Peace.

Since it was established in 1984, the 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, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish 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. 

Compiled by from news agencies

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