Turkey police disperse pro-Kurdish protesters

Protest in Istanbul turns violent when riot police began using tear gas.

    Clashes erupted between riot police and pro-Kurdish protesters in Istanbul [Reuters]

    Clashes erupted between riot police and pro-Kurdish protesters in Istanbul on Sunday.

    Scores of pro-Kurdish protesters marched to Istanbul's Fatih mosque to denounce a Turkish election board ruling that has stripped a pro-Kurdish politician, Hatip Dicle, from his newly won seat in parliament.

    The protests turned violent when riot police began using tear gas to disperse the crowd. Protesters threw stones and poles at riot police as they retreated.

    Several Pro-Kurdish legislators were also affected by the tear gas.

    Earlier this week, Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) party decided that all its candidates elected in a June 12 vote would boycott parliament.

    The party was objecting to the election board's decision to strip a Dicle off his seat because of a prior conviction on a "spreading terrorist propaganda" charge.

    Disqualifications

    On Saturday, a Turkish court ruled against the release of five pro-Kurdish politicians who were elected to parliament.

    In a seperate incident, three imprisoned candidates who were elected to parliament were disqualified by court order.

    They are in custody on charges related to an alleged plot to topple the government.

    The rulings could fuel a political backlash against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as he makes plans to introduce a new constitution and prepares for a third term in power.

    It was hoped the composition of the new assembly would force Erdogan to try harder to seek consensus. But the disqualifications have given rise to fears of turbulence as a row erupts over reallocated seats.

    Erdogan's Justice and Development (AK) Party, a socially conservative party with Islamist roots, had won 326 seats in the 550 seat assembly but was awarded more seats due to the disqualifications.

    Possibility of unrest

    It could make even greater gains if a threatened boycott of the new parliament by the pro-Kurdish opposition bloc leads to by-elections. Any reallocation of seats could prove crucial for Erdogan's plan for a new constitution.

    The Kurdish bloc, which won 36 seats, plans to boycott the parliament's oath-taking on June 28, unless Dicle is reinstated.

    His seat was awarded to an AK candidate, who was the runner up.

    If ethnic Kurds end up without their chosen representatives in parliament, it could reignite unrest in the mainly Kurdish southeast. More than 40,000 people have been killed in a separatist insurgency that has dragged on since the early 1980s.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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