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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid