Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kurdish success in Turkey's elections

In all reports of the recent Turkish elections (Report, 13 June), why has there been so little coverage in the UK media about the significant success of the Kurds or of their continued repression by the Turkish authorities?

Because of a rigged electoral system, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party did not field candidates but stood as independents. Despite widespread "dirty tricks" by the authorities, including intimidation, threats, bribery and fraud, 36 Kurdish politicians were elected, nearly doubling the number of Kurdish representatives in parliament since the previous election.

There has also been little coverage in the UK media of the imprisonment of 151 peace-seeking Kurdish politicians, human rights activists, elected mayors and lawyers, nor of Turkey's denial of the use of the Kurdish mother tongue in education.

It is heartening to see Leyla Zana elected and back in the parliament. Following her election 20 years ago, when she made her oath in Turkish and then repeated it in Kurdish, she was arrested and detained for 10 years in prison. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan, would do well to read carefully her thoughtful court defences to all the charges that today she still faces.

The UK government has welcomed Turkey's role as a negotiator in any Middle East peace process, and supported its aspiration to join the European Union. It is time our government reminded Mr Erdogan that he needs first to make peace in his own backyard, and that if he continues to deny some 15 million Kurds their basic democratic rights, Turkey will never be accepted in the EU.

John Austin Former Labour MP
Bruce Kent
Lord Rea
Hywel Williams MP
Margaret Owen Barrister and director of Widows for Peace through Democracy
Prof Bill Bowring Barrister and research fellow, Human Rights Centre, Essex University
Christine Blower General secretary, National Union of Teachers
Jonathan Fryer Journalist and broadcaster
Dr Vicki Sentas Research fellow, school of law, Kings College London
Alastair Lyon Human rights lawyer
Joe Ryan Chair of Peace and Justice Commission, Westminster diocese
Dr Felix Padel Anthropologist and author
Nick Hildyard Policy analyst
Stephen Smellie Secretary, South Lanarkshire branch, Unison

Source; the guardian

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