Boycotts mar Sovereignty Day festivities

Boycotts mar Sovereignty Day festivities

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Boycotts mar Sovereignty Day festivities

BDP lawmakers Hasip Kaplan (L) and Pelvin Buldan speak at a press conference. DAILY NEWS photo

The ceremonies marking National Sovereignty and Children’s Day yesterday were marred by opposition boycotts over jailed lawmakers and calls by Kurdish militants in the southeast against the celebrations.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which shunned all events in Ankara, said it was meaningless to celebrate when eight lawmakers remained in jail and children’s rights were being breached in incidents such as sexual abuse in the Pozanti juvenile prison and last year’s botched airstrike in Uludere, whose 34 victims were mostly teenage boys. The two BDP co-chairs were already away on a visit to the United States.

“Our attitude is not against Parliament, but against the government and its mentality,” the BDP’s Hasip Kaplan said. His colleague Pervin Buldan said “April 23 does not exist for the 19 children who died in Uludere and the 2,821 children who remain in prison.”

“They say that sovereignty belongs to the nation, but eight members of Parliament are still in prison. Unfortunately, sovereignty in Turkey belongs to the [Justice and Development] AKP government and the institutions under its tutelage,” Kaplan said.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also issued a April 23 message condemning the continuing imprisonment of the lawmakers. “Sovereignty used to belong to the nation. The AKP-dominated Parliament has darkened the future of our children and the country. The national will is locked up, the deputies are in prison,” he said. Kılıçdaroğlu also decided not to attend the Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek’s reception in the evening.

In the southeastern province of Hakkari, a paper circulated by militants of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) called on residents to boycott the festivities. “Just as Turkey banned the Nevruz celebrations on March 21, we call on the people to protest April 23,” the paper said. Following the call, most shops in Hakkari and the town of Yüksekova remained closed and officials of the BDP-held municipality shunned the official ceremonies.