ANKARA, — Newly elected Kurdish
lawmakers announced Thursday they would boycott
Turkey's parliament, infuriated over an electoral
board decision to
strip one of
them of his seat.
The move raised the prospect of fresh tensions
between Ankara and the Kurds in the wake of already
renewed violence and bloodshed that marred the
run-up to the June 12 elections, threatening to
re-ignite a conflict that has already claimed some
A spokesman for the lawmakers slammed the ruling to
strip jailed Kurdish politician Hatip Dicle of his
seat as "the last straw" in "operations and
obstructions" targeting efforts for a peaceful end
to the Kurdish conflict.
"We will not go to parliament until the government
and the parliament
Newly elected Kurdish lawmakers announced Thursday
they would boycott Turkey's parliament, infuriated
over an electoral board decision to strip one of
them of his seat.
take a concrete step to remedy this injustice and
provide opportunities for a settlement by opening
the way for democratic politics," Serafettin Elci,
one of the lawmakers, told reporters.
He spoke after an emergency meeting that the
deputies and officials of the Kurdish Peace and
Democracy Party (BDP), which is backing them, held
in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the
Elci urged the ruling Justice and Development Party,
which took over Dicle's seat, to "immediately return
the stolen seat to its owner."
The new parliament is to convene Tuesday for an
BDP-backed candidates won 36 of the 550
parliamentary seats in the elections, a record
number for Kurdish nationalists.
The BDP fielded them as independents to get around a
10-percent national threshold that parties are
required to pass to enter parliament.
However the Higher Electoral Board ruled late
Tuesday that Dicle, 57, was not eligible to run in
the elections because of a 20-month jail sentence on
Dicle, in prison since 2010 awaiting trial in a
separate case, had been expected to be freed to
assume his seat.
The legal jumble arose from the fact that Dicle's
sentence was upheld just four days before the polls,
when the list of candidates had been confirmed.
His was convicted for a speech deemed "propaganda
for an armed terrorist organisation" -- a reference
to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),www.ekurd.netwhich
has led a bloody separatist insurgency in the
southeast since 1984.
Five other Kurds who were elected on the BDP-backed
list remain in prison, awaiting trial on charges of
collaborating with the PKK.
Their lawyers have initiated legal procedures to
secure their release in line with a precedent dating
back to 2007 when a Kurdish activist awaiting trial
in jail was freed after she won a parliamentary
Piling up pressure on Ankara, the PKK last week put
forward tough conditions for the extension of a
unilateral truce it declared last August.
Eager to boost its EU bid, Turkey has notably
broadened Kurdish freedoms in recent years: they can
now broadcast in Kurdish, teach their mother tongue
in private courses and use it in political life.
The Kurds, however, have upped the stakes, demanding
constitutional recognition and autonomy.
Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan
Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish
state, which still denies the constitutional
existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in
the south east of the country.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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author or news agency, AFP | ekurd.net | Agencies