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Turkey Bans Pro-Kurdish Party

Turkey's constitutional court has banned the country's largest pro-Kurdish political party. The court found it guilty of supporting violence and being linked to the Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK.. The party's two leaders were also banned from politics for five years.

The ruling comes as the government is attempting to bring an end to 25 years of fighting with the Kurdish rebels.

The judges of Turkey's constitutional court took only three days of deliberating over the evidence to unanimously rule that the country's main  Kurdish party the Democratic society Party -- or DTP was guilty of --  inciting hatred and violence and was linked to the terrorist group PKK. Hasim Killic, the head of the court, explained their decision.

No party has the right to utilize discourse and activities that contain terror, violence and pressure. A party should separate activities and discourses that contain violence and terror from the peaceful ones, he said.

Along with banning the party, its two leaders Ahmet Turk and Aysel Tugluk and 35 other members have now been banned from politics for five years. That means Turk and Tugluk will be expelled from parliament.  The ruling comes as the government is trying to bring an end to a 25-year conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. . Killic acknowledged the ramifications of his decision.

Some people will say this verdict will sabotage the peace process, but this case is two years old , and we are judges not politicians.  He says no  country in Europe would allow such a party to exist.

In justifying the verdict Killic also said they had studied similar cases in the European Union -- in particular the closure by Spanish courts of the pro Basque Batasuna party. But observers says such justification will do  little to temper the expected condemnation from the European Union,   which Turkey is seeking to join. The government also bracing itself for domestic reaction to the verdict.

The DTP warned earlier this week if his party was banned,  all of its 21 members of parliament would resign and withdraw from parliamentary politics . That
is seen as a warning that the DTP will take its struggle for greater Kurdish rights to the streets. Addressing the media after the verdict, Turk warned of serious consequences for the country.

This deepens the desperation, he says. This is a reality. But we are hopeful that Turkey will find its peace one day. But by closing a political party you can't solve the problem. Turkey can  only solve its problems through reason and dialog.

The verdict comes after a week of ethnic violence, in which Kurdish youths have been clashing with security forces across cities in Turkey's predominately Kurdish southeast. The demonstrations were in  response to the killing of protestor last weekend. But protests have also been fueled by the expectation of the closure of the DTP. Turkish nationalists also have been demonstrating,  following the killing of seven Turkish soldiers by the PKK on Monday.  The banning of the DTP, while not unexpected, is predicted to further  increase tensions as the country braces for more violence.

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