Turkish Court Orders Kurdish Lawmakers To Be Forcibly Brought To Trial

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–While an Ankara court has issued an order for four former deputies of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party to be forcibly brought to court on terrorist propaganda charges, the four say the decision is discriminatory and against the law.

An Ankara court issued an order Tuesday for four former deputies of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party to be forcibly brought to court to testify on charges of promoting a terrorist organization.

Police raided the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) headquarters in Ankara early Tuesday in the search for the four former members of the disbanded Democratic Society Party (DTP).

The officers left the premises after 15 minutes when they could not find the deputies, Aysel Tugluk, Ahmet Turk, Selahattin Demirtas, and Emine Ayna in the building.

The four members are accused of promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but they are refusing to make a deposition, saying that, as deputies, they had parliamentary immunity and therefore could not be judged.

The court, however, said the former DTP members were accused of being involved in separatist activities, which made it impossible for the deputies to exercise their right to immunity from prosecution under Article 14 of the Turkish Constitution.

In response, the deputies said they were not subject to the article and criticized the double standard being applied against them.

“The decision is against the law. We have not testified so far to highlight this illegal situation; we are here because we are against this irrational situation,” Turk said, commenting on the court decision Tuesday. “We didn’t escape from court. If we did so, we wouldn’t be here today. But, we are here. We will go to the court and testify, when the time is right.”

Turk said the situation for himself and Tugluk was different than that of the other two because Demirtas and Ayna are still serving as deputies. “So, we can testify at any time, but we believe the decision for them is against the law.”

The DTP was banned from politics in early December for maintaining links to the PKK while Turk and Tugluk were banned from participating in politics for the next five years by the Turkish Constitutional Court. The remaining DTP deputies, meanwhile, decided to join the BDP.

Speaking to the press Tuesday, BDP Mardin deputy Emine Ayna said, “We have only one decision, which is equality.”

Tugluk said the decision was illegal and unfair. “We are facing a decision that is against the Constitution. There is a mechanism of immunity; our objection is that we face a discriminative implementation.”

The court, meanwhile, delayed the hearing day for the members of the disbanded DTP until April 13, 2010.

Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin, meanwhile, has chosen to remain neutral on the latest court decision against the former DTP members.

The court earlier asked Parliament through a written request to make the four DTP deputies testify. Parliament, however, does not plan to force the deputies in question to testify.

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