News / Middle East

Turkish PM Calls for End to BDP Immunity

The newly-elected lawmakers from pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, last two rows, sit the parliament with the members of other parties in Ankara, Turkey, October 1, 2011.
The newly-elected lawmakers from pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, last two rows, sit the parliament with the members of other parties in Ankara, Turkey, October 1, 2011.
Dorian Jones
The immunity of nine parliamentary members in Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) is under threat, following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning he will do whatever is necessary to facilitate their prosecution. The deputies are under investigation after TV images were broadcast of them embracing Kurdish rebels, who stopped the convoy they were traveling in. 

But BDP deputy Ertugrul Kurkcu says hugging is not a matter for prosecution.

"They talked to us and we talked to them and they gave us a hug what can we do? We reacted like a civilized person maybe some of us had more smiling faces than others. But this is not a matter for the judiciary," said Kurkcu.
 
The Kurdish rebels Kurkcu met belong to the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish state for greater minority rights and autonomy since 1984, a conflict that has claimed over 40,000 lives. Both the European Union and the United States consider the group a terrorist organization. But political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University warns any parliamentary vote to lift the deputies' immunity threatens to escalate the conflict.
 
"It would mean the end of the political process," said Altar. "There will be more alienation of the Kurds, this alienation amongst the youngsters is already there. I think we may end up in alienating even integrated Kurds who, although against violent action, nevertheless are voting for the BDP, because we should not forget that the BDP has 2.5 million votes."
 
But with the PKK in the past few months intensifying its operations, killing dozens of Turkish soldiers, the government’s room to maneuver is limited says Suat Kiniklioglu, former deputy for the ruling AK party and now director of the Stratim research institute.

"I think we need to make a clear distinction between violent means of political objectives and peaceful ones," said Kiniklioglu. "It is a difficult line to draw but there is a huge public outcry to make clear to everyone, whether there are members of parliament or not that simply you cannot support people who act or implement terrorist attacks."
 
The last time parliament voted to remove the immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies was in 1994. The four parliamentarians were prosecuted and served 10 years in jail for threatening the integrity of the state.  Their jailing is widely blamed for inflaming the conflict with the PKK, which peaked in the 1990s.

Parallels with that bloody era are now being drawn by analysts. But the political geographical map is now very different with Turkey's neighbors, says international relations teacher Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

"In the 1990s we only had vestiges of an Iraqi Kurdish political entity in the making. We now have almost a full-fledged state which is quasi-independent, very autonomous. Second, in Syria yet another possibility for another Kurdish entity. The Kurds are coming to the stage of history claiming what they were unable to get in the settlement in 1918-22 when the Brits and French put together the political geography and the system that we know," said Ozel.
 
But political columnist Asia Aydintasbas of the Turkish Milliyet newspaper says, with local, presidential and general elections scheduled in the next three years, the fate of the BDP deputies may ultimately rest with voting calculations.

"He is just like every politician," the columnist said. "He wants to do better in the upcoming elections. Erdogan wants to be president of Turkey and this is an overwhelmingly Turkish country. But unfortunately in the last few years Turkey has become more polarized between Kurds and Turks. So part of it, he his just looking at numbers and he knows which constituency to play for."

The fate of the deputies may well be determined by whether prosecutors decide to file charges against them. Observers say, with fighting continuing to intensify with the PKK, it will be difficult for the ruling party to oppose any vote that lifts their immunity.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kam from: Illinois
September 27, 2012 10:54 PM
If the BDP wants to negotiate with the Turkish government, it cannot support the PKK terrorists, which gets it's money via drug and heroin financing, and the BDP needs to call out the PKK, slam the PKK's action and publicly criticise the PKK terrorist group. If the BDP keeps up with this mess, there party needs to be shut down ASAP.

by: arnaud sachsen from: London
September 15, 2012 11:57 AM
The BDP like Sin Fein in Ireland, the governing bodies in Gaza and the West Bank, Pakistan and others cannot "face both ways on terrorism" and particicpate as civilised political participants in any national democratic or international forum.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs