The Turkish High Election Board (YSK) has banned Kurdish parliamentary-elect Hatip Dicle from entering office on account of his past terrorist activities, according to AFP. Under Turkish law, individuals who have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes are barred from becoming members of parliament.
The YSK ruling was based on a speech that Dicle gave in support of a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). For the speech—deemed by authorities to be "propaganda for an armed terrorist organization"—Dicle was sentenced to prison.
The PKK has been in conflict with Turkish security forces for some time and is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States. Around 45,000 people have been killed as a result of PKK terrorist activities in the last two decades.
Kurds have urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to draft a new constitution giving the Kurdish minority increased rights in the country. In the absence of a new constitution, the Kurds have sought to expand their rights by increasing their representation in parliament. Dicle was elected in the national election on June 12th under the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) by the Kurdish minority in Diyarbakir.
Five other Kurds elected under the BDP ticket are awaiting trial for charges of being tied to the outlawed PKK.
In reaction to the YSK decision, BDP politician Ahmet Turk stated that "[T]his is a decision to drag Turkey into a state of chaos…Turkish intellectuals will not remain [silent] in the face of this unlawfulness, which drags Turkey into an environment of clashes."
On Wednesday, a mine exploded in the eastern Turkish town of Nazimiye, killing two policemen and setting their car ablaze.
"The methods point [to the PKK]...and we have taken counter-measures and launched an operation," stated Turkey's interior minister, Osman Gunes, on Wednesday. "Terrorists should see that they could reach nowhere with such methods."
Such violence between the minority group and the Turkish government and military forces is expected to continue until Kurdish grievances are addressed. The BDP also formally announced on Thursday that it would boycott Turkey's parliament until it returned Dicle's democratically won seat.
"We will not go to parliament until the government and the parliament take a concrete step to remedy this injustice and provide opportunities for a settlement by opening the way for democratic politics," said BDP representative Serafettin Elci.
Replacing Dicle in parliament is Oya Eronat, who represents the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK).