Arrested Kurdish MPs could be executed

TURKEY'S parliament stripped immunity from prosecution from two more Kurdish deputies and an outspoken Islamic fundamentalist yesterday, a warning to all that nationalist sentiment in Turkey is a rising, divisive and increasingly relentless force.

Western diplomats in Ankara said parliament's actions against eight of its members were a disgrace to Turkey's European ambitions, showing the rotten state of the Turkish legal system and a further backsliding in Turkey's human rights record.

Several Turkish commentators thought along similar lines. They warned that the government was only making the situation worse by brutally silencing dissident opinion, an extraordinary contrast to the open discussion of everything and anything on nightly television chat shows watched by far more people in Turkey than tune in to broadcasts from the Turkish parliament. 'Whatever their links to the PKK (Kurdish rebel guerrillas), the deputies were a legal partner for dialogue . . . what is this decision by the parliament but a call to arms?' wrote Cengiz Candar in the popular daily newspaper Sabah.

But the right-wing deputies in parliament had no time for such talk. They see the 17 deputies from the Democracy Party much as many Englishmen view Sinn Fein as a front for IRA terrorists. Although the deputies' alleged 'crimes' relate predominantly to what they have said rather than what they have done, they face trial on charges of separatism that could carry the death penalty.

'They just don't listen to us. They seem to want to execute us. If they think they will solve the Kurdish problem by hanging us, let them do it. But history will show us to be right,' said Sirri Sakik, one of the parliamentarians whose brother, 'Fingerless Zeki', is a notorious rebel field commander. The fiery Democracy Party leader Hatip Dicle and the Kurdish deputy Orhan Dogan have already been arrested, bundled into police cars waiting at the parliament gate as they emerged late on Wednesday night. Theoretically the arrests broke the law, since the two men are still parliamentarians and have the legal right to appeal to the constitutional court.

Such niceties were, however, swept away by a dangerous surge of nationalism that appears to be overtaking Turkey now that the war between Kurdish guerrillas and security forces in south-east Turkey is almost as murderous as any in the Balkans or the Caucasus.

The trend has been encouraged by the Prime Minister, Tansu Ciller, who branded the Kurdish deputies as 'traitors under the parliament roof'.

Mrs Ciller organised an anti- Kurdish, anti-Islamic rally in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Monday in honour of Kemal Ataturk, who used secularism and then Turkish nationalism as the key to rallying people around the republic he founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923.

Istanbul did not seem very impressed. Only about 10,000 people partially filled the square, mostly police, schoolchildren and state workers specially bussed in for the occasion. But, whipped on by the secularist mainstream press, the exercise has now been repeated all over Turkey.

Faced with a collapse of the Turkish lira, a ballooning foreign debt and an economy teetering on the brink of recession, Mrs Ciller is doubtless hoping that some of the Turks' almost religious respect for Ataturk will rub off on her discredited government and help it do better in nationwide local elections on 27 March.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there