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.
“European countries remain incapable of solving ongoing problems. That's why Turkey should be a member of the union,” Turkey's EU minister says
PKK terrorists have attacked Turkish troops in southeastern Hakkari and Mardin provinces
The 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara has ruled that the proceedings against former President, Military Officer Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya, a Turkish Air Force Commander, were to be dropped due to the defendants' death and that their defence, while alive, was invalid.
Pascale Moreau says UN 'appreciates' Ankara's work with refugees but calls for political solutions to the crisis
Turkey may ask the public whether it should continue its EU bid if accession talks do not move forward, says foreign minister.
Four suspects, including a mayor, in southeastern Turkey face life imprisonment for reportedly allowing PKK extremists use state-owned machines in attacks.
Turkish Foreign Ministry describes reports of phosphorus bombs and incendiary cluster munitions as 'extremely worrying'
PKK extremist have been killed following an exchange of fire with Turkish gendarme forces in Elazig province
Turkey is blocking plans by a senior German delegation to visit the Incirlik air base, German officials have said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the EU bid could be determined by a UK-style referendum vote
Zionist MP Ksenia Svetlova will visit Turkey to participate in a joint Israeli-Turkish think tank on Friday.
Rockets, believed to be fired by PKK terror group, target local police department; no casualties reported
Turkish leader reacts after European Commission president declares Erdogan responsible in case visa deal fails
Two Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies first to face prosecution following lifting of immunity
Abdulhamid Han Mosque, which attracted President Erdoğan with its architecture, becomes heart of city as activities are held in complex
Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avci says Turkey and Turkish Cyprus are working together on a joint tourism action plan