Saturday, March 29, 2008

Demirtaş & the Case Against the DTP

From Today's Zaman:
The Air Forces Command Military Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit yesterday against 98 people, including Democratic Society Party (DTP) leader Nurettin Demirtaş, for forging documents to avoid compulsory military service.

The office demanded that 73 of these 98 people, including Demirtaş, be sentenced to 10 years in prison each for submitting a fake health certificate to avoid military service and that 25 others be sentenced up to 730 years each for masterminding and being involved in such criminal acts.

Demirtaş was put in prison late December of last year on charges that he had used a fake health report to avoid his military service, after he underwent a series of medical tests to see whether he had any health problems to prevent him from serving in the army.
The charges against Demirtaş came at the heels of the closure case and were an additional move against DTP, a move that came from inside the military. Then leader of the DTP, Demirtaş was arrested upon his arrival in İstanbul after return from a long trip abroad.

Since Demirtaş' arrest, DTP has been without firm leadership. Traditionally, the party has had one male and one female party leader. The female leader is hardliner Emine Ayna and Demirtaş' position has largely been filled by former leader Ahmet Türk, who is seen as a moderate. He often suggests that PKK tactics hurt the greater Kurdish cause and disenchanted many Kurds when he shook hands with MHP leader Bahçeli upon being sworn into Parliament last summer (a move that also resulted in criticism from Öcalan by way of his attorneys). Faced with infighting, competition within Kurdish politics, and most of all, an ongoing closure case, DTP is an extremely confused party at the moment, unsure as to its own identity and aims.

In another ruling Wednesday, the 9th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that DTP deputy Selahattin Demirtaş, Nurettin's brother, does not have parliamentary immunity from charges filed against him under the Anti-Terror Law for "making terrorist propaganda." Selahattin had been charged in connection with comments he made on Roj-TV, arguing that the Turkish state should consider Öcalan a legitimate interlocutor in its efforts to accomplish peace in the Kurdish southeast. The 9th Chamber's decision is founded in its reading of Article 14 of the Turkish Constitution, which it interprets as removing all rights and liberties granted in the Constitution if an act is held to constitute an effort to undermine the "indivisible integrity of the state." The ruling is significant in that it paves the way for other DTP members to be tried for violating the vague Anti-Terror Law before the Constitutional Court comes to a decision in the closure case.

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