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00:30, 20 February 2017 Monday
Update: 15:16, 19 August 2012 Sunday

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Turkey probes Kurdish MPs for meeting PKK
Turkey probes Kurdish MPs for meeting PKK

Kurdish politicians, including those from the BDP, are frequently prosecuted for alleged links to the PKK, but deny ties.

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.

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Press agenda on February 19
Press agenda on February 19

Here are the main topics World Bulletin’s English Desk plans to cover Sunday Feb. 19, 2017 (coverage may change depending on developing/breaking stories): BAGHDAD Iraqi forces launch an offensive on jihadists defending Mosul's west bank, in what could be the most brutal fighting yet in a four-month-old operation on the city. 700 words 0530 GMT by Ammar Karim and Jean-Marc Mojon US-militant-Egypt-prison,2ndlead WASHINGTON The sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian-born cleric linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, dies at 78 in a US prison facility after a long battle with diabetes and coronary artery disease. 650 words moved by Maggy Donaldson. File Picture Ukraine-Russia-conflict,WRAP MOSCOW A truce between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine will come into force Monday, Moscow and Kiev say, though some separatists are already labelling it unfeasible. 500 words moved by Anais Llobet Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,WRAP BERLIN Hungary's "On Body and Soul", a love story set in a slaughterhouse, wins the Golden Bear top prize at the Berlin film festival, Europe's first major cinema showcase of the year. 700 words moved by Deborah Cole. Picture. Video Also moved: Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-prizes,FACTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany,POINTS Entertainment-film-festival-Germany-winners,CHRONO -- ASIA -- NKorea-Malaysia-diplomacy-community,SCENE KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia's only North Korean restaurant promises a glimpse into life in the reclusive state but it has been shuttered since news broke of the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un's brother, with security guards turning customers away. 650 words 0600 GMT by Elizabeth Law. Picture. Video -- AMERICAS -- US-politics-Trump-Melania,lead MELBOURNE, Florida First Lady Melania Trump, usually a demure and soft-spoken presence at her husband's side, breaks with form, reciting the Lord's Prayer before issuing a scathing rebuke of his enemies and her critics at a campaign-style stop in Florida. 600 words moved by Michael Mathes with Stephanie Griffith in Washington. Picture. Video. US-media-politics-technology WASHINGTON As President Donald Trump warns of a crackdown on US government leaks to media, interest is growing in technology tools that allow sources to share information anonymously. 750 words moved by Rob Lever Venezuela-politics-opposition-US CARACAS Venezuela and the United States lock horns again over political prisoners held by Caracas, including over the detention of a jailed opposition leader whose supporters took to the streets of the capital to demand his release.