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POLITICS > Scuffles at Parliament over defense in Kurdish

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Deputies of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) nearly came to blows. DAILY NEWS Photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ.

Deputies of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) nearly came to blows. DAILY NEWS Photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ.

A heated debate took place in Turkish Parliament during a crucial session regarding a law enabling Kurdish suspects to speak in court in their mother tongue at hearings of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial. After hours of tense discussions the session was postponed shortly after midnight without finishing the official vote.
 
Deputies of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who have vocally opposed defense in mother tongues, nearly came to blows with Kurdish representatives of the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP) in the first half of the debate, but were eventually separated with some difficulty after discussions heated up.  

Oktay Vural, the MHP’s parliamentary group deputy chairman, criticized the proposal and argued that approving the measure would amount to accepting a request from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “This law aims to legitimize the sovereignty of terror,” Vural said in a vehement speech.

Meanwhile, deputies from the BDP loudly criticized deputy Parliament speaker Sadık Yakut for giving the floor to Vural. The BDP’s parliamentary group deputy chairman, İdris Baluken responded to Vural by accusing him of “creating propaganda.”

In the second half of the debate, tensions boiled over again, this time between members of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and BDP deputies. The CHP’s MP from İzmir, Birgül Ayman Güler and the BDP’s parliamentary group deputy chairman, Pervin Buldan engaged in a verbal scuffle that led to an interruption of the parliamentary session. 

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ rejected criticisms of the proposal, arguing that a similar right existed in countries such as Switzerland. “Changing the judicial language is out of the question,” said Bozdağ, explaining that according to the draft law the fees of translators for culprits who don’t know Turkish will be paid by the state, whereas culprits who know Turkish and yet prefer to speak in court in another language will have to pay the translator fees themselves. 

The arrangement is part of a 13-article amendment proposal to the Criminal Procedure Code (CMK) and to the Law on Execution of Penalties and Security Precautions. The proposal also outlines a chance for married prisoners to conduct conjugal visits with their spouses without the presence of prison staff from anywhere between three to 24 hours once every three months.

In the fall of 2012, over 700 inmates staged a 69-day-hunger strike in several Turkish prisons, demanding an end to the isolation of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. Hunger strikers also called for an end to restrictions against the use of Kurdish in courts and in the educational system. The legal case against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the PKK, has been deadlocked as courts have rejected defendants’ demands to speak Kurdish when giving their defense.

Inmates ended their hunger strike after Öcalan issued a plea Nov. 17, a week after the government submitted the legal arrangement to Parliament. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the time that the move should not be considered a concession to strikers, noting that the AKP had promised this right during their party congress on Sept. 30. Some analysts and reports say the ongoing process involving officials in talks with Öcalan for the purpose of drawing an end to the conflict between security forces and the PKK actually began after Öcalan called on hundreds of PKK inmates to end their hunger strike. 

January/23/2013

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mara mcglothin

1/24/2013 6:00:17 PM

JRC That is the main problem in Turkish politics. The people who represent you are picked from a list by their party and NOT directly voted on by the people. If these people had to directly answer to the constituents that elected them, then I have to think that some things would be a bit different. JOHANNA You got it all wrong. The woman is being held back from attacking others. She is the one on the offensive and the men are protecting other men from her. Look at her face!

Brian Irlanda

1/24/2013 12:23:47 PM

Surely when the Deputy PM mentions "culprits" shoud he really say defendants? Culprits are defined as guilty people. Surely they are not "culprits" until they have been found guilty.

JRC JRC

1/24/2013 10:38:11 AM

I don't know how anyone can reasonably expect Turkish society to develop while it is represented in parliament by thugs like this. It's good for debate to be passionate and determined, but for it to descend into shouting matches and fighting shows a number of MPs to have been selected for reasons other than intelligence.

Jeff Gibbs

1/24/2013 10:35:46 AM

The Kurdish language question is not deadlocked at all--it moves along at top speed. I attend the Silivri trial--the judge simply ignores the request as he does with 90% of requests from defense and moves on. Also, the hunger strikers were not PKK inmates. You might say 'alleged KCK' inmates but not PKK inmates--only a few were. The vast majority--numbering in the 1000s at the end were not. Please print accurately or not at all. Enough of this sort of journalism.

Johanna Dew

1/24/2013 8:49:10 AM

The woman hiding behind the man his shoulder....this picture explains the Turkish society at large with one snapshot. .Great phoro, terrible PR.

JPLdK

1/24/2013 8:12:37 AM

In the 19th century there was one official language in Belgium: French. Now we have 3: Dutch, French and German because we have 3 populations: Flemisch (Dutch speaking), French and German. These languages are also teached at the schools

dario Kurd

1/24/2013 1:47:56 AM

speaking in mother tounge is a basic human right that turks deny to Kurds..can someone please tell turks we are in 21 century

mara mcglothin

1/23/2013 7:31:09 PM

Fist fighting in Parliament! Now that is statesman like behavior that we want the whole World to see! Turkey should be very proud. It matters not the issue, but backward barbaric behavior has not place inside the halls of justice for any country. How embarrassing.
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