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Turkey strips prominent Kurd of parliament seat

(AFP)
Filed on June 22, 2011
Turkey strips prominent Kurd of parliament seat

Turkish authorities stripped a prominent Kurdish activist of the parliamentary seat he won in the June 12 polls, citing a terror-related conviction, news agency reported.

Hatip Dicle, currently in jail awaiting trial in a separate case, had been expected to be freed after he was elected to parliament as an independent candidate from Diyarbakir, the largest city of the Kurdish-majority southeast.

The Higher Electoral Board however ruled late Tuesday that Dicle was not eligible to stand in the elections because of a 20-month jail sentence he had received under Turkey’s anti-terror law.

The legal jumble arose from the fact that the Appeals Court upheld Dicle’s sentence just four days before the elections, when the list of candidates had been confirmed.

Dicle was convicted over a speech deemed ‘propaganda for an armed terrorist organisation’ — a reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has led a bloody separatist insurgency in the southeast since 1984.

Dicle was among 36 candidates who were elected to parliament with the backing of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement which is seen as close to the PKK.

The BDP fielded them as independents to get around a 10-percent national threshold that parties are required to pass to enter parliament.

Dicle, 57, was among the first Kurdish nationalists to win seats in Turkey’s parliament in 1991.

However, many of them were arrested in 1994 after their party was banned for links to the PKK, and spent 10 years behind bars before being released in 2004.

The group included iconic Kurdish activist Leyla Zana, who also won a parliamentary seat in the June 12 polls.

Dicle was put back in prison in 2010 as part of a massive probe into alleged urban wings of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community.





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