CHP-MHP resist to defense in Kurdish

CHP-MHP resist to defense in Kurdish

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP-MHP resist to defense in Kurdish

Dilek Akagün Yılmaz from the CHP says the draft law was unconstitutional and describes the bill as ‘the fore step of official language alteration.’ DHA photo

The main opposition and nationalist parties have united to resist a legal arrangement that would pave the way for defense in one’s mother tongue, labeling the draft bill as “a concession given to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).”

A commission member from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Dilek Akagün Yılmaz, claimed yesterday the draft law was unconstitutional and described the bill as “the fore step of official language alteration.”

“Under the current legislation one can defend himself in courts in his mother tongue if he doesn’t speak enough Turkish to express himself. But the situation is different here. If you allow defense in a defendant’s mother tongue even if they can speak Turkish, this draft law will pave the way for official language alteration,” Yılmaz said during debates at Parliament’s Justice Commission.

The arrangement allowing for defense in one’s mother tongue 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.

Under the proposal, a defendant is given the opportunity to make their verbal defense in a language they feel they will be better able to express themselves in. Defendants will be able to speak in a language other than Turkish in their first defense after the indictment is read and in the final phase of the defense after the deliberation is read out.

Opposition lawmakers accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of giving concessions to the PKK by allowing defense in one’s mother tongue. Denouncing the bill as a “concession given to the PKK as a result of hunger strikes,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmaker, Faruk Bal, called on AKP lawmakers to review their position on the amendment.

Over 700 inmates staged a 68-day-hunger strike in several Turkish prisons demanding an end to the isolation of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, as well as an end to restrictions against the use of Kurdish in courts and in the education system. The legal case against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the PKK, has recently been deadlocked as the courts have rejected defendants’ demands to speak Kurdish when giving their defense.

Inmates ended their hunger strike after Öcalan issued a plea a week after the government submitted the legal arrangement to Parliament. However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said 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.