Turkey Tense as Court Considers Kurd Party's Fate

The future of Turkey's main Kurdish party hangs in the balance as the country's constitutional court deliberates whether to shut down the Democratic Society Party. The government has accused the party of supporting terrorism.



The future of Turkey's main Kurdish party hangs in the balance as the country's constitutional court deliberates whether to shut down the Democratic Society Party.  The government has accused the party of supporting terrorism.

Turkey's highest court this week began final deliberations on a case seeking to shut down the main Kurdish party on charges of backing the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, a charge the Democratic Society Party has denied.

DTP leader Ahmet Turk condemned the case.

"Unfortunately this is such a wrong reasoning," he said.  "We are face-to-face with such a wrong logic that takes our liquidation as the basis for solution to the Kurdish problem," he said.

"If the DTP is closed, we have no plans to remain in parliament as independents.  There is no point for the party to even take part in the next elections," he said.

Analysts say the party could take its struggle for greater Kurdish rights to the streets, further ratcheting up ethnic tensions.  And, this week, it seemed to begin.

Kurdish youths clashed with police in several cities across the predominantly Kurd region in southeast of Turkey.  The protests were in response to the death of a student who was demonstrating over the treatment of imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The student was shot in the back at close range in what human-rights activists say was an execution by security forces.  The government says the killing is being investigated.  

The DTP is widely seen as being the voice for much of the country's Kurdish population.  The party scored a landslide victory in this year's local elections and regularly secures a majority of the votes in parliamentary polls in the region.

The closure of the pro-Kurdish party could have far-reaching consequences on Turkey's bid to join the European Union warns Richard Howitt, a member of the European Parliament's standing committee on Turkey.

"It is a disaster if a mainstream political party, which clearly represents a legitimate strand of the electorate ... because what does that mean?  It really questions whether there is a democratic plurality within the country, and I cannot predict what the European response might be, but what I know is that could be as bad suspension," he said.

Since its creation in 1964 the constitutional court has closed down 24 political parties.  Since the 1990s it has been mainly pro-Kurdish parties that have been shut.  Last year, the ruling Justice and Development Party narrowly escaped closure after being convicted by the court of threatening the secular state.

Court Chief Hasan Killic has appealed to the government to change the law to prevent such closure cases.  That call has been echoed by the European Union, but the calls have gone unheeded.  Now observers say hopes of change seem remote as the government is facing a growing nationalist backlash over its peace efforts to resolve the Kurdish conflict.

One of the mothers of the seven Turkish soldiers killed Monday in an attack that is being blamed on the PKK.

Thousands of people demonstrated against rebels, chanting "Our country will never be divided" as ethnic tensions continue to rise.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack and promised a harsh response.

He says surely, those who realized and planned this despicable attack and who pulled the trigger will reap the consequences.  I am repeating one more time, whoever was at the front and behind this act will pay the heaviest price.

Newspaper columnist and political scientist of Istanbul University Nuray Mert warns the increasingly harsh rhetoric from both sides gives little hope for peace.  
"The Kurdish problem does not lead anywhere.  Not only on behalf of state policies, but also on behalf of Kurdish politics," said Mert.  "Their discourse will get even more provocative. And I then think another wave of harsh discourse will come out and it will turn out into a vicious cycle of provocations.  State discourse and Kurdish discourse , and then more tough state discourse.  It does not lead any where."

This week the deputy leader of the DTP, Emine Ayna, declared the government peace efforts dead.  That may be premature, but observers warn if the DTP is closed it could deal those efforts a mortal blow, as well as having far-reaching international consequences and plunging the country into chaos. 

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs