Kurdish deputies of disbanded DTP to stay in Parliament

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ANKRA (Hurriyet)–Deputies of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP)  reversed Friday their earlier decision to resign in protest of Constitutional Court’s closure of their party.

“We have decided to stay on parliamentary ground and continue making contributions for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue,” Ahmet Türk, former co-leader of the disbanded party, told reporters Friday.

Last week, the court shut down the DTP finding that it was linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The verdict, which also banned DTP leaders from politics, sparked violent Kurdish protests across the Southeast. Two Kurds were murdered in protests on Wednesday, shot to death by ultra-nationalist Turks.

“This decision is a clear demonstration that we have faith in democracy … and that we advocate peace and not violence,” Turk said.

The DTP was left with 19 members in the 550-seat legislature after two deputies – Aysel Tugluk and Turk – lost their seats as the court ruling banned them from politics for the next five years.

The deputies earlier announced plans to resign but were asked from both Turkish and Kurdish supporters to stay in Parliament to continue the party’s long-held commitment to the development of democracy in Turkey and the establishment of equality for the 30 million beleaguered Kurds living in Turkey’s South-East.

“The most important thing for us is our democratic effort. Our voters and nation have asked us to stay in Parliament,” he said.

The 19 lawmakers will join the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) rather than sitting as independents in the legislature. The BDP was established as a potential replacement in the event of a ban after the public prosecutor initially indicted the party.

Turk said deputies would attempt to form a parliamentary group to maintain their influence in the Parliament. Since the party would need 20 MPs to do so, another deputy, likely independent Ufuk Uras, would join their ranks.

The decision is likely to be a relief for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The government, currently pushing a half-hearted initiative to quiet the restless and impoverished Kurdish conflict, is afraid the combination of the court closure and the resignation of  Kurdish deputies might trigger political instability in the country.

PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, serving a life sentence, also sent a message through his lawyers urging them not to resign, Turk said.

The Kurds of Turkey have been under siege as the Turkish military has waged a 25-year campaign of suppression in the Southeast to kill a pro-democracy movement for equal rights and self rule.

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