Turkey Detains Politician for Speaking Kurdish

… Though it recently lifted education and broadcasting bans in Kurdish to appease EU

DIYARBAKIR (Reuters)–Police in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast detained a politician on Monday for speaking Kurdish while campaigning for next month’s general election–an official working for him said.

Abdulmelik Firat–who is running as an independent candidate in the November 3 parliamentary elections–greeted voters in Kurdish at a campaign stop in Lice on Monday–Fehmi Demir said.

Turkish election laws bar politicians from campaigning in languages other than Turkish.

Turkey recently lifted bans on broadcasting and education in Kurdish in a bid to meet European Union human rights standards.

Ankara has been pressing the European Union to set a date for the start of negotiations on Turkish membership–but the bloc has said Ankara must prove it is implementing human rights reforms before it can start membership talks.

Firat would have to be brought before a court to be formally charged with breaking the election law and arrested.

He is a well-known politician in the regional capital Diyarbakir and is expected to attract a large number of votes as an independent candidate.

The pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP) is also expected to poll well in Diyarbakir.

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