Monday, December 14, 2009

DTP excludes itself from parliamentary proceedings

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TZ 14.12.2009- DTP Chairman Ahmet Türk over the weekend announced that his party was going to boycott Parliament and not participate in its proceedings.The written statement issued by party headquarters in Ankara also dismissed speculations that a new party group may be formed in Parliament with the possible support of one independent deputy. “Discussions like these are not on our party agenda,” the statement said, adding that the group had effectively withdrawn from participating in the works of Parliament. The party is also planning to appeal the Constitutional Court ruling at the European Court of Human Rights.

DTP leader Ahmet Türk over the weekend said the party would boycott Parliament and not participate in its proceedings. However, independent İstanbul deputy Ufuk Uras said he is ready to support the DTP in forming a parliamentary group again after the top court kicked two DTP deputies out of Parliament, leading to DTP’s failure to meet the required 20 seats to form a group.

Discussions, however, continue among the party base over whether withdrawing from Parliament is wise, as some party members insist Parliament serves an important channel to voice Kurdish demands.

With this in mind, decisions made by the Democratic Society Congress, which comprises many civil society organizations, will be very important. It will convene in Diyarbakır on Monday and almost all DTP deputies will be present.

The Democratic Society Congress may suggest that legal Kurdish politics should continue to be represented in Parliament, perhaps by the established but not yet active Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The Constitutional Court on Friday unanimously decided to close the DTP, calling it a focus of separatist activities. The court also decided to ban 37 DTP politicians, including DTP chairman Türk and deputy Aysel Tuğluk, from engaging in politics.

The DTP had 21 seats in parliament. Forming a parliamentary party in Parliament requires at least 20 deputies. The ban on the two DTP deputies will make it difficult for the rest of the deputies, who are now independent now, to form a new group.

Before the court closed the DTP, the party had stated that even if one DTP deputy in Parliament is banned, all will resign. Indeed, all already submitted their letters of resignation to Türk. But, according to the Constitution, for a deputy to resign from Parliament is not easy; the general assembly has to approve any resignation. If Parliament approves the resignations, the number of empty seats in Parliament will total 26. Independent İstanbul deputy Uras may join them, bringing the number up to 27, just one less than 28 empty seats, a situation that requires interim elections to be held. Since the other parties do not want elections, they will not approve the resignations.

When the DTP deputies promised to resign from Parliament, they thought many of them will be banned from politics. The indictment against them called for a ban on 219 people, including eight DTP deputies.

But the possibility of forming a new parliamentary group is very likely, and this possibility has led the DTP deputies to rethink their position.

“Our group de facto withdraws from Parliament; it will not participate in its facilities,” Türk said, but did not elaborate on whether he will submit the letters of resignation of the deputies to the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, independent İstanbul deputy Uras, the former chairman of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), in a written statement underlined that he believes the closure of the DTP makes a solution to the Kurdish problem by democratic means more difficult and reiterated that he will do anything to support the DTP, so long as it accords with his beliefs.
“The closure of the DTP brings the risk of further and larger clashes. It buries any hope that guns will be silenced. What we need most in Parliament is common sense and efforts to solve problems,” Uras underlined.

He also urged everyone with a sense of justice to act in accordance with the principles of democracy and peace. Another pro-Kurdish party, the BDP, was established last year but is not active. Former DTP deputies may join this party.
The DTP headquarters in Ankara are expected to be vacated and a new lease agreement signed with the BDP.

Election of new leader to determine path forward
The makeup of the BDP’s leadership will determine the course this new party will take. Moderate names such as Akın Birdal, former chairman of the Human Rights Association (İHD), and even Uras, if he joins the party, have been mentioned, but so have the names of Emine Ayna and Hatip Dicle, both known for their radical views.

Former DTP deputies may face prison
The Constitutional Court’s decision to close the DTP has led Türk and Tuğluk to lose their parliamentary immunity. The two will now have to face cases that were pending against them.

Tuğluk, along with deputies Selahattin Demirtaş, Ayna and Sabahat Tuncel, refused to attend hearings of court cases pending against them, citing parliamentary immunity.

According to the Constitution, if a person is charged with separatist activities and if the case begins before he or she is elected a deputy, the court case continues despite immunity.

During the last hearing of the cases, held in October, the court decided it would bring the deputies to court by police force. Addressing this decision, the deputies said they would resist any such move. Tuğluk has now said she will attend the hearings.Discussions concerning banning individuals from engaging in politics continue.

Türk, speaking at a press conference over the weekend, said the bans are proof of how the Constitutional Court cannot be taken seriously.He cited the case of Leyla Zana, who has been banned from engaging in politics but was neither a founder nor a member of the DTP.

The 37 people who were banned from politics for five years when the DTP was shut down are expected to take their case to the European court.

According to Türk, Zana’s case is proof the Constitutional Court decision is politically motivated. He was also critical of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for being silent during the process.

Türk added that the Republican People’s Party (CHP) claims to be the lawyer of Ergenekon, a terrorist organization, and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) threatens others by saying “They will see the anger of the Turks,” but no legal action is taken against them.

He also urged everyone to think once more about solving the Kurdish question through peaceful means. “It is a pity for the citizens of this country. I urge you from here to not neglect the problems of this country. You will be held responsible by history and the conscience of the people. Please stop taking Turkey into civil conflict and chaos,” he said.