Court case against Kurdish parliament in exile

ISTANBUL – In the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday a court case against members of the Kurdish parliament in exile will begin. The parliament was founded in The Hague in 1995. Prison sentences of 15 to 22 years are being demanded for 31 suspects, one of whom is the parliament’s president, Yaşar Kaya. They are accused of founding and leading an armed organisation. According to the prosecutor, the parliament is the diplomatic branch of the Kurdish separatist movement PKK, reports daily newspaper Zaman.
Turkey recently started a new offensive against PKK sympathisers. In the last two weeks about fifty people were arrested, among them politicians of the pro-Kurdish party DTP. They are alleged to have ties with the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK), the organisation the Kurdish parliament in exile joined in 1998. The KCK is an umbrella organisation of groups supposedly linked to the PKK. Political precursors of the DTP were at the time co-founders of the parliament in exile.
The founding of the parliament fifteen years ago lead to a diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey and between the Netherlands and the United States. The US recognised the PKK as a terrorist organisation, Europe didn’t (yet). Both Turkey and the US blamed the Netherlands for not taking seriously the fight against terrorism and giving the PKK the opportunity to get international support by allowing the parliament in exile to be set up. The then Dutch Prime Minister Kok was not impressed: the Dutch constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and Kok was not prepared to give that up for diplomatic peace. In the end the parliament in exile met nine times in different European cities.

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