Deputies of banned Kurdish party to stay in Turkish parliament

11:08, December 19, 2009      

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Deputies of the recently banned Democratic Society Party (DTP) would join another Kurdish party and stay in the Turkish parliament instead of pulling out as previously planned, a DTP former leader said Friday.

Nineteen DTP deputies who remained in the parliament after a court ruling last week to shut down their party would join the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), former DTP chairman Ahmet Turk told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Turkey's Constitutional Court decided last Friday to close the DTP, the only Kurdish party in the parliament, on charges of links with the separatist Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by the government.

The court expelled two DTP lawmakers, including Turk, from the parliament, and banned 35 other DTP members from politics for five years. The party's remaining 19 legislators had threatened to resign.

"We have decided to continue our political life in the parliament for the nation's fraternity and a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue," Turk told reporters.

The BDP was established in 2008 and considered a back-up for the DTP. Before the DTP case, five Kurdish parties in Turkey had been dissolved for links with the PKK and each time their members were absorbed by a new party.

Turk said Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader serving a life imprisonment on a Turkish island, told his lawyers Wednesday it was not right for the DTP deputies to leave the parliament.

Last week's ban on DTP sparked Kurd protests in several cities and towns, which turned violent in some places and added uncertainty to the government's reform plan to expand Kurd rights and end deadly conflicts with the PKK.

First announced in July and revealed in more details in November, the reform includes steps to remove restrictions on Kurdish language use and set up institutions to protect human rights. It has met strong backlash from nationalists and opposition parties.

The DTP closure was feared to further weaken the reform by shedding support from Kurds. It also dealt a blow to Turkey's membership bid in the European Union, which also lists the PKK as a terror group but has urged Ankara to improve rights for the Kurdish minority.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Its separatist campaign has fuelled conflicts that killed some 40,000 people in the country.

Source: Xinhua
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