The newly-elected lawmakers from pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, last two rows, sit in the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, October, 2011. Photo: AP
ANKARA, Turkey – Four imprisoned Kurdish MPs expressed outrage and accused Turkey of practicing a separate law for non-Kurds, after two Diyarbakir courts refused to release them but freed another jailed lawmaker from the mainstream opposition.
Last week the courts in Diyarbakir rejected an appeal from lawyers and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on behalf of Kurdish MPs Ibrahim Ayhan, Selma Irmak, Faysal Sariyildiz, Gulser Yildirim, and independent deputy Kemal Aktas, who have lingered in jail since a 2009 Turkish crackdown on Kurdish groups.
But the courts ordered Mustafa Balbay, from the main opposition Republic People’s Party (CHP), to go free after more than four years in jail. The CHP has joined the BDP in criticizing the court rulings, which were condemned in a joint letter by the jailed Kurdish MPs themselves.
“It has been proven one more time that a separate system of law is carried out in Turkey not only for jailed MPs but also for sick prisoners and for all political prisoners,” the jailed Kurdish MPs said in a recent joint statement.
“The decision they have made about the jailed MPs has shown that there is a relative and multiple law system in Turkey. Diyarbakir courts have declared that there is a separate system of law for Kurds,” the MPs said.
“The fact that special courts have decided to prolong our detention despite the decision of the Constitutional Court has also demonstrated that the political genocide operation which was started in April 2009 with the arrest of thousands of people from the Kurdish political movement is still going on,” the statement added.
The BDP leadership has regularly condemned the imprisonment of its MPs and accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of being behind them.
“It is the AKP government which has enacted laws for all those arrests and long detentions,” said the BDP leaders in a most recent statement. “It is the AKP government which has established the special courts. The government has also appointed those judges and prosecutors. So this decision is not the decision of a few judges; it is the decision of the AKP government.”
The jailed Kurdish MPs have variously complained they were arrested on false testimony, having to wait in jail for a year without hearing charges and of prison conditions, such as overcrowding, poor health conditions and facilities as well as inadequate nutrition.
The BDP won 36 seats in the Turkish parliament in the 2011 elections. It initially boycotted parliamentary sessions to protest against the imprisonment of its MPs.
Turkey, which has long denied language rights and other liberties to its large Kurdish minority, embarked on a peace process this year with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a guerilla group that fought a three-decade war for Kurdish rights in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed. But the process has remained stalled for the past several months.