Turkey's DTP to appeal ban at European Human Rights Court

DTP plans to appeal Turkish political ban to ECHR in six months, dismissing the similarity to Spain's Batasuna in the top court's ruling.

Turkey's DTP to appeal ban at European Human Rights Court

DTP plans to appeal Turkish political ban to European Human Rights Court (ECHR) in six months, dismissing the similarity to Spain's Batasuna in the top court's ruling.

DTP Sirnak MP Hasip Kaplan told Turkish media, "DTP would defend that Bask seeks separatism in Spain. It has organic links with ETA. DTP does not have any organic link with any organisation including PKK" in the petition to ECHR.

"We did not participate in any action or call for any violence as DTP," he said.

He said, "there will be a total of 38 appeals and we have the right to appeal the ban within six months".

Violence

Meanwhile, DTP supporters clashed with police in some towns across Turkey's Kurdish southeast on Saturday after a court disbanded a leading Kurdish party, dealing a blow to government efforts to end decades of conflict in the country.

In Ankara, deputies from the Democratic Society Party (DTP) said they would quit parliament in protest at a ruling by the Consitutional Court to dissolve the party over PKK links.



Hundreds of protesters pelted riot police with petrol bombs and stones in the town of Hakkari, pictures showed. Police fired water cannon and tear gas at protesters, who lit street barricades.

State news agency Anatolian said a girl was injured in Hakkari, where protesters attacked two police officers, who were saved by former DTP officials.

There were also reports of clashes in Van and of protests in the city of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast and where tensions remained high.

The court ruled on Friday in favour of banning the DTP after it found it guilty of links to PKK militants.

The verdict, threatens to undermine Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party's drive to reconcile Kurds with the state and end decades of conflict.

"Revising Law on Political Parties"

"Banning the Democratic Society Party is a blow to efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue and ensure minority rights in Turkey," Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

"As a matter of urgency, the government should revise the constitution and Law on Political Parties, so that this kind of ban won't be possible in the future," Sinclair-Webb said.

Erdogan's government hopes broadening Kurdish rights will help end the conflict with the outlawed PKK. More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

The conservative establishment, including the judiciary, has traditionally regarded Kurdish aspirations for more autonomy as a threat to the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

New party?

If all 21 MPs from the DTP resign it would raise the possibility of by-elections. The DTP is the only Kurdish party in parliament and controls nearly 100 municipalities.

Erdogan's AK Party enjoys a majority in the 550-seat assembly, but he could lose support among Kurdish and nationalist voters ahead of an election in 2011.

"From this day, we are withdrawing from parliament. We will not participate in any parliamentary meeting or events," DTP chairman Ahmet Turk told a news conference.

Several Kurdish parties have been outlawed in Turkey, but members of banned parties have regrouped under a new name.



Turk, who has defied calls to condemn PKK violence, did not say what steps his supporters would take, but said "we still believe in democratic politics." The PKK is branded a terrorist group by Washington, Brussels and Ankara.

Kurdish opening?

The EU has expressed concern over the verdict, having warned the ban would violate Kurdish rights. The U.S. State Department said Turkey's democracy should advance political freedom for all its citizens and steps that restrict those rights "should be exercised with extreme caution.

Erdogan's AK Party narrowly survived a legal case by the same court to shut down the party in 2008.

The ruling came after the PKK attack on Turkish troops. Erdogan questioned the timing of the attack, saying "terrorist organization PKK claimed the responsibility of this terrorist attack, but it could be a different strategy or tactic."

Such attacks aimed to undermine the government's national unity project and hinder democratic initiative, he said.

PKK militants on Thursday claimed responsibility for the killing of seven Turkish soldiers in an ambush in northern Turkey this week.

The government's planned pro-Kurdish reforms include the creation of an independent body to investigate cases of torture by security forces in the southeast as well as further loosen restrictions on the Kurdish language.

Analysts fear the ban on DTP would strengthen the hand of the militant PKK by undermining confidence in the democratic process and the government's current reform initiative.


Agencies

Last Mod: 13 Aralık 2009, 13:53
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