Ban on Kurdish lawmaker ignites protests in Turkey

09:29, June 23, 2011      

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Kurdish protesters demonstrate in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, June 22, 2011. Some 1,000 Kurds staged a protest here on Wednesday against a decision to bar an elected Kurdish candidate from Turkey's parliament. Turkey's High Election Board ruled late Tuesday that Hatip Dicle, one of the 36 Kurdish-backed candidates in the elections June 12, wouldn't be allowed to enter the parliament due to a prior conviction for spreading terrorist propaganda. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)

Some 1,000 Kurds staged a protest here on Wednesday against a decision to bar an elected Kurdish candidate from Turkey's parliament.

Protesters shouted slogans such as "We will not give up from pressure" and "Erdogan not to make mistakes."

Shortly after the protest, some protesters began smashing some shops in the street near the Taksim square, the center of Istanbul.

The protesters clashed with police by throwing stones on them while the police fought back by using tear gas and high-pressure water cannon to disperse them.

Turkey's High Election Board ruled late Tuesday that Hatip Dicle, one of the 36 Kurdish-backed candidates in the elections June 12, wouldn't be allowed to enter the parliament due to a prior conviction for spreading terrorist propaganda.

The decision inflamed passions among Turkey's large ethnic Kurdish minority, after an election campaign that featured attacks by Kurdish terrorists and a toughened stance from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan toward the Kurdish demands for greater political rights as he sought nationalist votes.

Ahmet Turk, a former Kurdish party leader who was also elected to the parliament on a ticket backed by the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, said that "This decision has openly shown what the state's real approach and understanding of a solution to the Kurdish problem is."

"This is a decision that will draw Turkey into chaos," He warned in a televised speech on Wednesday.

Besides the protest in Istanbul, a sit-in was underway in the main Kurdish city Diyarbakir on Wednesday to protest the decision to bar Dicle, the Firat news agency reported.

Two policemen were killed in an explosion Wednesday while driving in the eastern province of Tunceli, where the banned Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, is active, the state-run Anadolu Ajansi reported.

Source: Xinhua

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