Pro-Kurdish lawmakers to go on hunger strike in Turkish parliament
ANKARA - Four pro-Kurdish lawmakers plan to go on hunger strike in the Turkish parliament from Tuesday to denounce a court ruling against the release of jailed MPs with suspected links to Kurdish rebels, their party said.
Last week, a journalist and lawmaker from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Mustafa Balbay was freed from prison pending appeal after Turkey's top Constitutional Court ruled his pre-trial detention of more than four years had violated his rights.
The move raised expectations among the ranks of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) that it could set a precedent for the jailed BDP deputies.
But two courts in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir rejected on Monday an appeal to release four BDP lawmakers and an independent deputy, who have been in detention since 2010 suspected of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The BDP condemned the decision as "political" and warned it would harm the peace process between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and much of the international community.
"We are beginning a hunger strike tomorrow (Tuesday) to protest this discriminatory approach," Sirri Sureyya Onder of the newly founded Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said on his Twitter account.
The peace process stalled after Kurdish rebels announced in September they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms.
Kurds are demanding the release of Kurdish prisoners and political activists, the lifting of restrictions on Kurdish-language education in state schools and reducing the 10-percent election threshold required to secure seats in parliament.
The PKK launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984 that has claimed about 45,000 lives.
The BDP has 26 seats in parliament while the HDP has four.