BDP holds congress; Prosecutor’s office opens investigation

The BDP held its first congress on Monday in Ankara and elected Diyarbakır deputies Selahattin Demirtaş and Gülten Kışanak as the co-chairpersons of the party. The pro-Kurdish BDP (Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi/Peace and Democracy Party) was formed in 2008 and replaced the Democratic Society Party (DTP) when it was closed down in December of last year.

Yesterday, one day after congress, the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the BDP congress for alleged crimes of ‘turning people against the military,’ ‘contradicting the Political Parties Act’ and ‘praising crime and criminals.’ Or maybe the Prosecutor’s Office was upset because the Turkish national anthem was not played at the opening of the meeting?

Journalist Gültan Kışanak was born on 15 June 1961 in Elazığ. She graduated from Ege University Communication Facutly in Journalism and Public Relations. Kışanak worked for various newspapers as a journalist. She ran several projects as co-ordinator and consultant for the Bağlar Municipality Social Project in Diyarbakır in eastern Turkey. With an independent candidacy she was elected Diyarbakır MP on 22 July 2007 and joined the DTP group.

Turkey arrested almost 800 Kurdish politicians in the course of political operations throughout the last year. BDP Deputy Group Chairman Nuri Yaman has criticised the waves of arrests and said late last month, the ‘aim [of the AKP] is to eliminate the BDP staff, the elected mayors and the people’s free political will in order to make room for AKP politics.’ He compared the incidents with the military coup of 1980, saying that ‘the AKP government imposed another 12 September to the Kurds.’

The new investigation only strengthens Yaman’s argument.

In Kışanak’s speech to the congress, attended by some 2,000 delegates, Kışanak criticised the ruling AKP saying that ‘they have crippled rights and freedoms.’ She also said Abdullah Öcalan’s mission was important for peace.

Selahattin Demirtaş, a lawyer, was born on 10 April 1973 in Palu. He graduated from Law School at Ankara University and eventually became President of the Human Rights Association, Diyarbakır Branch. He is also member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and the Turkish branch of Amnesty Internt'l. As his colleague Kışanak, Demirtaş was elected Diyarbakır MP as independent candidate in the elections on 22 July 2007 and joined the DTP group.

Demirtaş strongly pushed for linguistic and cultural civil disobedience. He asked Kurdish artists to produce works in Kurdish. He requested that teachers and doctors in predominantly Kurdish areas use Kurdish in the course of their jobs. He suggested university students should engage in stronger campaigns for education in Kurdish.

He also addressed parents whose sons are doing their military service or are in the mountains, saying ‘Don’t watch while your children are killed. To demand an end to this war is your right, before that of anyone else. Search for this right.’

The prosecutor will request records of the congress from security forces, but apparently the police department in Ankara could not get the needed court permission from the courts to record the session. In the past, events at congresses of successive pro-Kurdish political parties have all been recorded by police forces and the tapes were handed over to prosecutors to be used in cases opened against the parties.

The police department appealed the decision, but the upper court upheld the ruling. So police do not have recordings of the events inside the congress hall, but they recorded events outside the congress hall where another 2,000 people were chanting slogans and waving banners.

sources:

Turkey’s new pro-Kurdish party faces investigation, Hürriyet Daily News, 02 February 2010.

Belge, Burçin. Yaman from DTP: 800 Kurdish Politicians Arrested in One Year. BİA News Center, 27 January 2010

Korkut, Tolga. New Co-Chairs for Peace and Democracy Party. BİA News Center, 02 February 2010.

Public prosecutor launches investigation into pro-Kurdish BDP. Today’s Zaman, 02 February 2010.

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