World Bulletin/News Desk
Prosecutors in Turkey are investigating an impromptu roadside meeting at which pro-Kurdish MPs smiled and embraced separatist militants in the southeast of the country, an act which drew strong criticism from senior political leaders on Sunday.
The incident happened on Friday when Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels set up a roadblock and stopped a Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) convoy. Newspaper photos showed the MPs embracing five militants, who had rifles slung over their shoulders.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, launched its separatist insurgency 28 years ago and more than 40,000 people have since been killed.
Kurdish politicians, including those from the BDP, are frequently prosecuted for alleged links to the PKK, but deny ties with the militants. Previous Kurdish parties similar to the BDP have been closed down for such links.
"Those images are very saddening," President Abdullah Gul told reporters on Sunday after prayers at a mosque to mark Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim feast at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
"I warn all citizens that they must distance themselves very clearly from those who are embroiled in violence, blood and terrorism," he added.
The state prosecutor's office in the eastern province of Van has begun a preliminary investigation into the meeting in Hakkari province's Semdinli district under anti-terrorism laws, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.
Prosecutors would ask parliament to lift the MPs' immunity from prosecution, it added.
Friday's incident occurred when the BDP delegation, led by deputy party leader Gultan Kisanak and including eight other MPs, was travelling to a village in Semdinli.
Aysel Tugluk, an independent MP in the group, defended their actions when asked about the investigation.
"We are happy about the encounter. It was meaningful and significant for us to at least hear from them how they are fighting and in what circumstances," Tugluk said.
"They (prosecutors) can open as many investigations and impose as many penalties as they like," she told reporters.
Semdinli is a mountainous area on the border with Iran and Iraq, where the several-thousand strong militant force is based. In recent weeks it has been the scene of intense fighting between the PKK and the Turkish military.
Ankara has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of giving the militants weapons and of allowing a PKK proxy party to exert its authority in towns in northern Syria - a move which has prompted threats of military intervention from Turkey.
The PKK has recently revived the practice of setting up roadblocks in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey to spread party propaganda and to kidnap Turkish officials. Most recently, it seized an opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy in Tunceli province, releasing him unharmed last Tuesday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented on both incidents on Sunday, criticising both the kidnapped CHP deputy and the BDP for refusing to label the PKK a terrorist group.
"Why? Because the separatist terrorist organisation is the reason for their existence or their entry into parliament," Erdogan told reporters.
"They enter parliament thanks to the fear which the separatist terrorist organisation creates in society," he said.
More than 14,000 civilians, majority of them from the Alevi community, were killed in a military offensive in Dersim province in 1937.
Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation says 'Turkey's future interwoven with solution process.'
Turkish premier Davutoglu wishes commercial routes to replace the refugee routes between Syria's war-torn Aleppo and Turkey's Gaziantep
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Turkey has moved to enable them to return to Turkey.
Turkish and Chinese state-owned companies, and a private U.S.-based company have signed an agreement to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey.
Cyprus issue and the 1915 incidents have been discussed between the U.S. envoy and Turkish foreign minister during a meeting on Tuesday.
Turkish dailies on Tuesday cover President Erdogan’s remarks at a Women and Justice Summit, an interview by the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, Selahattin Demirtas on the ongoing 'peace process,' as well as actor-director Russell Crowe's remarks on the Battle of Gallipoli
A local court in Manisa rejects an indictment regarding the Soma mine disaster that claimed 301 lives
Istanbul-based Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate sees Pope Francis’s upcoming visit to Turkey as a 'continuation of the dialogue' between West and East churches
Turkish and U.S. cooperation is likely to focus on strengthening Syria's moderate opposition, with the first group of fighters expected to start training in Kirsehir in months.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Turkey on December 1 to attend the 'Turkish-Russian High-Level Cooperation Council' meeting.
Turkish authorities strive to intensify economic cooperation with Macedonia, Turkey's parliament speaker says
The new internal security bill aims to restructure Turkey’s law-enforcement agencies, domestic security and civilian affairs' authorities.
The Supreme Court of Appeals President Ali Alkan says new package allows appointment and dismissal of judges and prosecutors without knowledge of Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals
The European Parliament’s resolution calling for the removal of Turkish warships off Cyprus coast is unacceptable, Turkish parliament speaker says.
The Turkish official said the 2,000 Syrian rebel fighters would be among a total of 5,000 being trained in several countries as part of the U.S.-led campaign.