Kurdish politicians warn of chaos after election board disbars BDP’s Dicle

TODAY’S ZAMAN
?STANBUL

YSK ruled that Hatip Dicle of the pro-Kurdish BDP does not qualify to become a deputy because he had been convicted in a terrorism-related case. Following the decision, the AK Party’s Oya Eronat won a seat in Parliament
Reactions were harsh from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) after the Supreme Election Board (YSK) voted unanimously on Tuesday night to strip Hatip Dicle, who was elected to Parliament as an independent candidate last Sunday, of his deputyship.
Ahmet Türk, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK), which convened on Wednesday to evaluate the YSK decision, said the decision is neither moral nor legal. “This is a decision to drag Turkey into a state of chaos,” he said. Noting that democratic politics are being blocked, he added, “The nation will hold this mentality, which blocks efforts for democracy, accountable.”
Bengi Y?ld?z, a BDP-sponsored independent deputy from Batman, directed harsh criticism at the YSK for its decision involving Dicle, threatening that the decision would “lead to irreparable damage.” “The YSK has become a board that plants dynamite in the foundations of society,” he said, adding that they would not remain silent in the face of the YSK decision. Politicians from the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), on the other hand, called on everyone to refrain from violence and instead act with common sense.

Dicle was endorsed by the BDP from Diyarbak?r, a predominantly Kurdish province in the Southeast, after the pro-Kurdish party decided to enter the June 12 general elections with independent candidates, fearing that it would fail to exceed the 10 percent election threshold if it entered the elections as a party. He was convicted of “disseminating the propaganda of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]” in 2009 by the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court, and the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the decision in March of this year. The court sentenced Dicle to one year, eight months in prison on terrorism charges.

Dicle is also currently on trial in the 6th Diyarbak?r High Criminal Court as a suspect in a separate investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). He was detained in December 2009 as part of the KCK probe and has been in custody since. Dicle’s lawyers appealed to the 11th Ankara High Criminal Court to cut the prison term he had served as a detainee during the KCK investigation from his earlier conviction of 20 months on charges of “disseminating the propaganda of the PKK.” As the Supreme Court of Appeals only recently upheld the 2009 decision by the 11th Ankara High Criminal Court, Dicle was in custody not because of his 2009 conviction but as part of the investigation into the KCK.

Last week, the Ankara court decided to cut 453 days, the period he had served as a detainee during the KCK probe, from the sentence he originally received in 2009. The YSK convened on Tuesday to discuss Dicle’s deputyship. The board decided that Dicle does not qualify to become a deputy in accordance with Article 76 of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, persons who have been convicted of dishonorable offenses such as involvement in acts or terrorism or incitement and encouragement of such activities shall not be elected deputies even if they have been pardoned.

After the cancellation of Dicle’s deputyship, Oya Eronat, a Diyarbak?r candidate for deputy from the AK Party, won a parliamentary seat. Eronat came second to Dicle in Diyarbak?r in the elections. She obtained her official deputyship certification on Wednesday afternoon. The BDP seats in Parliament have dropped to 35, while those of the AK Party have risen to 327.

The YSK decision concerning Dicle was published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday. It read that Dicle was not qualified to become a deputy as he was convicted of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization. Dicle’s lawyer, Levent Kanad, says his client has no right to appeal the YSK decision. No official body supervises decisions made by the election body in Turkey. Asked about the ruling on Wednesday, YSK President Ali Em said their decision answers all questions. He said the election board announced an interim decision before the elections but was not able to give a final decision without hearing Dicle’s defense.

Hasip Kaplan, who was also elected to Parliament as an independent candidate backed by the BDP, referred to the YSK decision as “scandalous.” The decision is illegal, unethical and undemocratic, according to Kaplan. In addition to Dicle, there are five more BDP-backed independent deputies in jail in the KCK trial. In an earlier statement, Türk said the other 30 BDP deputies will not enter Parliament during the oath-taking ceremony unless their six colleagues are released from prison and allowed to enter Parliament. If they miss the oath-taking ceremony, the deputies will be stripped of their titles as deputies, and their seats will be left vacant.

During the DTK meeting on Wednesday, Türk said, “Our people [Kurds] will show their democratic reaction to this illegal decision. Our people will not stand by with folded arms. Our people are organized; they will show their democratic opposition in a strong way. Turkish intellectuals will not remain [silent] in the face of this unlawfulness, which drags Turkey into an environment of clashes. We can all suffer in this environment of chaos. So we want a common reaction to be developed against this decision for [the sake of] democracy.”

The DTK later announced a declaration containing recommendations for the BDP and Turkish politicians to overcome the crisis. The group said it does not recognize the YSK decision as Dicle is the candidate who received the highest number of votes in Diyarbak?r and called on the BDP to announce that its deputies will not enter Parliament in protest of the YSK ruling.

In the meantime, a prosecutor asked the ?stanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which is hearing the Sledgehammer coup case, to reject a request to release retired Gen. Engin Alan, a jailed suspect in the case, from prison. Alan was elected as a deputy in the June 12 general elections from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Call for common sense from the AK Party

Suat K?l?ç, the deputy chairman of the AK Party’s parliamentary group, called for respect for the YSK decision, and added that the AK Party government did not have the slightest impact on the election board to make its decision concerning Dicle. “It is by no means in the hands of the AK Party government to decide who should enter Parliament. We have no authority to impact the judiciary. We just expect the decisions of judicial bodies to be in line with the expectations of people,” he stated. Former Interior Minister Be?ir Atalay, who is now an AK Party deputy, said everyone should respect the YSK decision, adding that it has nothing to do with political parties or politicians in Turkey. According to AK Party Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik, everyone should act with common sense.


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