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
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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid