News / Europe

Turkey Reconsiders Ban of 12 Kurdish-Backed Candidates

All banned candidates supported by pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), decision to ban them set off violent protests all over the country

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Parliamentarians Sebahat Tuncel (C) and Ufuk Uras (R) attend a protest against the High Election Board's decision in central Istanbul, April 19, 2011
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Parliamentarians Sebahat Tuncel (C) and Ufuk Uras (R) attend a protest against the High Election Board's decision in central Istanbul, April 19, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones

Turkey's top election board is reconsidering a decision to ban 12 independent candidates from running in this June's general election.  All the banned candidates are supported by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the decision to ban them set off violent protests all over the country.   

Turkey's High Election Board says it will review its earlier decision to ban 12 independent candidates, supported by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, from running in the June 12 general election. They registered as independents to circumvent the legal requirement that a party needs 10 percent of the vote for parliamentary representation. The 10 percent barrier is widely considered a means of preventing Kurdish representation.  Many protesters see the ban as another anti-democratic step against Kurds.

One pro-Kurdish demonstrator in Istanbul says the basic right of electing and being elected has been taken away from them and the ban is preventing their candidates from entering the parliament.

Demonstrators march with yellow BDP flags and display outlawed PKK banners during a protest against the election board's decision in Istanbul, April 19, 2011
Demonstrators march with yellow BDP flags and display outlawed PKK banners during a protest against the election board's decision in Istanbul, April 19, 2011
The protest in Istanbul like others across the country ended in clashes with the police. The worst confrontations occurred in the predominately Kurdish southeast of Turkey.   A Kurdish party official said police opened fire on demonstrators. The region is the center of a bloody 27-year conflict between the Kurdish rebel group the PKK and the Turkish state.

Turkey's electoral board had banned the Kurdish-backed candidates citing  their criminal records. All have been convicted under the country's anti-terror laws.

But two of the banned candidates have already held political office, including Sabahat Tuncel who says the ban is politically motivated.  She says the  ban is being perceived as an attempt to exclude Kurds from the democratic process, that is why there is such a reaction.

The ban comes at the same time the BDP is facing legal crackdowns with nearly 2,000 party members currently detained accused of supporting the PKK.  

Richard Howitt the spokesman on Turkish affairs for the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, says there will be consequences for Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union.

"Well this decision comes in the wake of past decisions to ban the precursor party of the BDP and follows a long line of interventions of the ability of people and parties to stand freely in elections in Turkey," he said.  "And I will need a lot persuasion that this in line with our European values of free and democratic expression and choice. And there is no doubt that,  that will form part of the judgment we make  this year on whether Turkey is making progress towards the European Union or not. "

But with Turkey's EU bid stalled due to strong opposition from some members, such threats carry little weight with the government.

The minister of Interior Besir Atlay supported the ban while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in search of nationalist votes in this June's election, accused the BDP of being responsible for creating discord in the country. He said there is no Kurdish issue in Turkey anymore, the exploitation of Kurdish siblings in Turkey is the issue.

That speech is seen as the Prime Minister stepping back from his previous stance of acknowledging the country's Kurdish population have legitimate grievances saying in 2007 that Turkey has a Kurdish problem.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University says the ban is part of a worrying new trend, but praises the restraint of Kurdish politicians.

"The message is clear go back to the mountains and continue the fight," Aktar said. "But the Kurdish politicians are teaching a democracy lesson to the entire Turkey, because they could have said we withdraw from the Turkish political life, and its already an extremely good news. But if their requests and argument does not go through. Well we may have tremendous problems in this country. "

A pro-Kurdish newspaper headline described the ban as a declaration of war.  Such fears fuel growing condemnation with the main opposition calling for immediate recall of parliament, while the speaker of parliament too has added his voice to the growing condemnation.  Pressure has been growing on the electoral board to reverse its decision and the board will now talk things over.   Observers warn Turkey could well be at the crossroads, peace or conflict.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid