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Kurds to stay in Turkish parliament
Leader of banned party says members will now stay in parliament reversing earlier decision.
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2009 19:35 GMT
The ban on the DTP triggered violent protests among Kurds around the country [AFP]

A group of Kurdish politicians have announced that they have reconsidered a decision to resign from Turkey's parliament after their political party was banned.

Turkey's constitutional court outlawed the Democratic Society Party (DTP) last week, saying it was linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a verdict that sparked violent protests around the country.

Ahmet Turk, the leader of the DTP, said: "This decision is a clear demonstration that we have faith in democracy ... and that we advocate peace and not violence.

"We have decided to stay on parliamentary ground and continue making contributions for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue." 

Ocalan intervention

The DTP was left with 19 members in the 550-seat legislature after two deputies, including Turk himself, were stripped of their seats as part of the court ruling.

The politicians had come under pressure from both Turkish and Kurdish activists to stay in parliament to demonstrate their commitment to a political solution to the Kurdish conflict.

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Turk said that Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, who is serving a life sentence on the prison island of Imrali, had also sent a message through his lawyers urging them to reconsider their decision to resign.

"Ocalan has said that it is not a right decision to leave parliament and that this fight should continue," he said.

The DTP leader said the 19 politicians would now join the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a small recently founded Kurdish group, rather than sitting as independents in the legislature.

The 25-year-old conflict between the government in Ankara and Kurdish fighters seeking autonomy from Turkey has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The government said on Thursday that it remained committed to a plan to expand Kurdish freedoms in a bid to erode separatist sentiment among Kurds and end the fighting.

Source:
Agencies
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