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Kurdish parties call for a boycott of Turkey’s referendum

Kurdish parties call for a boycott of Turkey’s referendum

06 Ağustos 2010 Cuma 19:06
Leaders from Turkey's legal and outlawed Kurdish groups called on the country's Kurds “to boycott” a planned referendum on constitutional amendments introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently.
SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Leaders from Turkey's legal and outlawed Kurdish groups called on the country's Kurds “to boycott” a planned referendum on constitutional amendments introduced by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) recently.

“There is nothing new in the constitutional amendments for the Kurds. As the PKK, we are not in favor of the changes in the constitution,” Farhan Omar, an official in charge of PKK's Iraq relations, told AKnews on Wednesday.

The PKK is an outlawed party in Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

“The previous Constitution banned Kurdish language. The new one does the same. Kurdish children cannot be educated in their mother language, cannot be given Kurdish names and Kurdish towns and mountains cannot be called by Kurdish names.”

The fight between PKK and Turkish military has escalated in recent months claiming more than 40 lives on both sides.

The PKK has bases in Iraqi Kurdistan's Qandil Mountains and has launched guerrilla warfare against Turkey since early 1980s. The war has claimed around 40,000 lives on both sides.

The amendment package recently approved by the Turkish parliament includes the abolishment of the provisional article 15 of the Constitution which does not allow trial of the members of the National Security Council formed after the military coup in 1980.

The new changes also revoke the ban on the right to general strike and pave the way for a citizen to become a member of more than one union.

A nationwide referendum will be held in Turkey on Sept. 12, in which the citizens will either approve or reject the amendments.

A leader of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the largest legal pro-Kurdish organization in Turkey, told a rally Tuesday in the eastern Kurdish-dominated city of Kars that “we will return the ballot boxes empty” to the government.

Selahattin Demirtas, BDP's co-president, said one reason behind his call for boycotting the referendum was the riots by hard-line Turkish nationalists against Kurdish civilians in some areas of the country.

“The main person responsible for the lack of security in Kurdish-dominated areas is the prime minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) himself who is working with coup-plotters and is trying to create unrest,” said Demirtas.

“We are in forefront of those wishing to live under a democratic constitution, but it has become clear to us that AKP harbors ill intentions and supports coup-plotters. That's why we are boycotting the referendum.”

By “coup-plotters” Demirtas referred to elements within Turkey's military and ultra-nationalist groups who have allegedly plotted unsuccessful coup attempts against AKP government in the past.

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