Kurdish party faces ban for speaking mother tongue

  • The New Anatolian
  • 09/06/2006 00:00:00

Ankara - A public prosecutor requested the ban of the pro-Kurdish Rights and Freedoms Party (Hak-Par) yesterday for speeches made in Kurdish by party members at its congress last year.

In yesterday's hearing of the case, which has been going on for a year, the public prosecutor argued that party leaders knew the use of Kurdish at public meetings is a crime, but that the defendants committed the crime deliberately and accepted that they did.

Prosecutor Hasan Coskun Cetinbilici requested the party be banned under Article 81/c of the Political Parties Law. He asked for at least six months in prison for the accused, party head Abdulmelik Firat and other party administrators.

The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), which distributed cards to celebrate Nevruz, which included a Kurdish phrase, for the occasion a few months ago, also faced legal proceedings under the same article. A court ruled the cards be confiscated.

Article 81/c of the same law, entitled "Prevention of the Occurrence of Minorities," stipulates that political parties can't use languages other than Turkish for their party congresses, meetings, election campaigns, bylaws or party programs. They also can't use or distribute signs, banners, video or audiocassettes, in short, any kind of document, written or verbal, in a foreign language.

A Nationalist Action Party (MHP) provincial member who gave a speech in Kurdish in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir last month, however, hasn't faced prosecution. Neither has his party, known for its nationalist tendencies, criticized him.

The Hak-Par defendants accepted that they made speeches in Kurdish but maintained that the crime defined in the law is against the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The prosecutor, in reply, said that the courts aren't the places to discuss the rationale behind existing laws and that they are obliged to implement existing legislation.

At today's hearing the defendants will present more of their defense.

  • The New Anatolian
  • 09/06/2006 00:00:00