Rights organizations criticise closure of pro-Kurdish DTP in Turkey


Pro-Kurdish DTP Closed down by Constitutional Court

Ankara, Istanbul – BÄ°A News Center – The Constitutional Court ruled for the closure of pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party and imposed a political ban on 37 of its members. Co-chairs Türk and TuÄŸluk are deposed from their duties as MPs. Human Rights organizations criticized the decision.

The Constitutional Court decided to close down pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) for “becoming focused on terroristic activities” on 11 December. The court imposed a political ban on 37 party members for the duration of 5 years. Co-chairs Ahmet Türk and Aysel TuÄŸluk were removed from office as MPs.

The brief decision will be published in the Official Gazette. The Supreme Court Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is going to notify DTP of the decree. By terminating the party as an incorporated body, its assets will be transferred to the treasury. The case had been opened on 16 November 2007.

Once the reasoned decision is published in the Official Gazette, the deposition of Türk and Tuğluk will come into effect as well as the 5-year political ban. For the 37 party members affected by the ban this means that they cannot operate as an executive, founder or member of any political party.

Rights organizations criticise closure decision

Rights organizations criticize the DTP closure decision and call for effecting a new constitution as soon as possible. In the context of closing down yet another political party, Human Rights Watch (HRW) rapporteur Emma Sinclair-Webb urged for a reform of the constitution:

“DTP is the latest victim of laws that do not comply with international rights standards. The closure of DTP is a coup against the solution for the Kurdish question and against all efforts to guarantee rights to minorities. The core of the constitution and the Political Parties Law has to be reviewed urgently in order to avoid this kind of closure in the future”.

HRW criticizes quoted evidence

HRW argued that Constitutional Court President HaÅŸim Kılıç implied a lack of separation between DTP and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) when he said, “The right to freedom of expression and freedom of association is not granted to any political party in the world that is involved with terror and violence”. According to HRW, the evidence compiled in the indictment stems from speeches and statements made by party MPs, mayors and executives which did not explicitly reflect the praise and defence of violence.

DÄ°SK: AKP and opposition parties are responsible too

Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DÄ°SK) President Süleyman Çelebi evaluated the closure announcement as follows: “First of all, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition parties bear responsibility for the DTP closure […] because they did not amend the anti-democratic Political Parties Law”. Concerning DTP’s closure, the Prime Minister said they respected the decision. However, if it comes to a closure case regarding his own party, the respect for the judiciary is quickly forgotten”.

Çelebi warned that closing down means of political struggle paves the way for other systems availing of violence and impedes solutions for social problems. “Politics must get rid of double standards and the parliamentary democracy must urgently be bowdlerised of the Political Parties Law”.

MAZLUMDER: Violation of voters’ rights

Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) Diyarbakır Branch commented, “Parties that include the Kurdish question in their program can be a great contribution to finding a solution. Nonetheless, the people governing this country still tend to intimidate party officials who deal with these problems by exposing them to unlawful pressure and leaving them incapacitated”.

According to MAZUM-DER, the DTP closure decision with all its implementations violates not only the political rights of the party members, but also the rights of millions of voters, the right to participate in the management, and the freedom of expression and association.

ÖZGÜR-DER: Social demands persist despite closure of the party

Association for Free Thought and Educational Rights (ÖZGÃœR-DER) General Manager Rıdvan Kaya pointed out that the closure of DTP does not mean the disappearance of the party’s social demands. Kaya also called for an amendment of the Political Parties Law to prevent further party closures and political bans.

“We should comprehend that the government steps back from a solution for the Kurdish question and that it is impossible to develop a perspective for a concrete solution, especially if it is based on guidance by people like Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek”.

ÇHD: Unacceptable decision

The Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) Istanbul Branch evaluated the decision as a “massacre of justice”.

“With this contradictory decision the Constitutional Court shows that politics of ignorance and destruction will be continued after this. It reveals a sincere distance and indifference to ‘democratization’ and ‘opening’ as expressed by the political leadership”.

“The Constitutional Court’s decision to close down DTP shows that for the Kurdish people living in this country, the right to life, to speak, to associate and to found political parties is not being recognized. This decision is unacceptable”.

Report on bianet.org by Erol Onderoglu ([email protected]), Tolga Korkut ([email protected]), Erhan Ustundag ([email protected])