Top Turkish Court Begins Hearing DTP Closure Case, Kurdish Clashes Continue

Children are seen throwing stones at policemen after an illegal demonstration by outlawed PKK sympathizers in Mersin on Sunday.

Children are seen throwing stones at policemen at a demonstration by Kurds in Mersin on Sunday.

ANKARA (Hurriyet)—Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday began hearing a closure case against Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party on charges of links to a terrorist organization.

Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, filed a lawsuit in the court in Nov. 16, 2007, demanding the closure of the Democratic Society Party (DTP). Yalcinkaya alleged that the DTP has become a focal point of separatist actions and that it maintains links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a breach of the law on political parties.

In the 121-page indictment, the chief prosecutor also demanded the top court ban 219 members of the DTP from politics, including DTP leader Ahmet Turk, along with deputies Aysel Tugluk, Sebahat Tuncel, Osman Ozcelik, Ibrahim Binici, Sevahir Bayindır and Fatma Kurtulan. Under the Constitution, a majority of votes is required to outlaw a political party and in this case at least seven out of 11 members at the top court are needed to outlaw the DTP.

The court will handle the 141-item accusation list submitted by the prosecutor and the party’s defense regarding the accusations. The court will examine the speeches made by the party’s administrative team at rallies and in Parliament to reveal whether the party called for violence and whether party members praised terror. Commentators say the case, which could take several days or weeks, is not expected to take very long.

Turk said the DTP would take its struggle to protect Kurdish rights to the popular level instead of continuing it at the parliamentary level if the court disbands the party. DTP deputies have already submitted resignation letters to Turk and have threatened to resign from Parliament if the court rules against the party – a move that could force interim elections.

In the closure case of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the 11 judges of the top court gathered for final deliberations on the closure case against the AKP on July 28, 2008, and issued their verdict on July 30, 2008.

Founded in 2005, the DTP has 21 seats in Parliament.

Crowds gathered in front of Parliament on Tuesday to protest the court hearing about the DTP. Massive clashes also took place over the weekend and Monday between Kurdish demonstrators and the police, killing one boy. Protests began after the new prison accommodation of Ocalan was disclosed and the closure case against the DTP announced.

Across the country in the past few days tensions have escalated in the streets. Fifteen protesters were arrested in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and a further 21 people, including seven children, were arrested in clashes in the southeastern region of Sirnak. The protesters were detained and charged with “spreading propaganda for an organization by carrying out demonstrations and using weapons.”

Firat Anli, the DTP’s Diyarbakir provincial head, issued a statement blaming the police for the death of the boy who was participating in the clashes. “The police have breached the laws of duty and authority and are guilty of misconduct, and using undue force which resulted in the death of a citizen,” Anli said, speaking at a press conference in Diyarbakır on Tuesday.

Twenty-five members of the DTP in the southern city of Adana were also detained Tuesday, including two members of the provincial managing body, Erol Demirhan and Engin Okutcu.

In Izmir, supporters were prevented from marching in protest of the DTP’s closure case. Instead, DTP supporters met at the party’s provincial headquarters and hung Turkish flags out the windows.

Adana’s DTP provincial head Osman Dogan said the closure case against the party is a “provocation.”

Speaking to a crowd of approximately 100 people in Adana on Tuesday, Dogan said at a time where parties have come together for solutions and peace initiatives, the question surrounding the closure of political parties is dangerous and has lead to provocation.

 

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