Kurdish MPs threaten Turkish parliament boycott after mayors seized

Supporters of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party during a demonstration. The HDP denies any link to terrorism. (Reuters/File)
Updated 20 November 2019

Kurdish MPs threaten Turkish parliament boycott after mayors seized

ANKARA: The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is considering withdrawing its MPs from Turkey’s Parliament in protest at the government’s dismissal of four district mayors over the weekend.

The removal of the Kurdish local leaders on terrorism charges brings the total number dismissed since the March 31 local elections to 24, with some also imprisoned.

HDP lawmakers, mayors and local officials are expected to discuss a parliamentary boycott at a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara.

Removal of the Kurdish mayors has drawn widespread international criticism.

The move is seen as a violation of the right to political participation and free elections under the European Convention on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Alice Kuhnke, a member of European Parliament for the Greens/European Free Alliance, said that the arrest of Kurdish mayors and political opponents is part of a wider attempt to silence political opponents, even those democratically elected.

SPEEDREED

• The removal of the Kurdish local leaders on terrorism charges brings the total number dismissed since the March 31 local elections to 24, with some also imprisoned.

• HDP lawmakers, mayors and local officials are expected to discuss a parliamentary boycott at a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara.

• Removal of the Kurdish mayors has drawn widespread international criticism.resignation.

“It is based on questionable laws and put in place to undermine the judiciary in order for the regime to control and keep an executive overview of court rulings — this has nothing to do with independent judiciary,” she told Arab News.

Kuhnke said the campaign against the Kurdish mayors highlights a systematic breakdown of judicial independence and rule of law.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the HDP over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the US and EU.

HDP, whose former co-leaders have both been jailed on terrorism charges for three years, denies any link.

Kuhnke said the HDP’s threat to withdraw from Parliament “is a desperate, yet understandable, sign of frustration and anger over actions taken by the regime toward the party and its members and supporters.”

Local governors who were dismissed are from eastern and southeastern provinces, especially from Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin, three largest Kurdish regions.

They were removed during and after Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria against the YPG Kurdish militia.

HDP’s opposition to the Turkish offensive, which it has described as “an invasion,” is also considered a factor in the move.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, director of Human Rights Watch Turkey, said the removal and jailing of HDP mayors accelerated after Turkey’s military incursion into northeast Syria.

“The signs are that this is a government policy to deny any distinction between the HDP and the PKK, and to crush lawful and legitimate political association supported by hundreds of thousands of people in the southeast,” she told Arab News.

“There are signs, too, that the presidency is pushing to strip 12 HDP MPs of their immunity and to target them. Dismissing and jailing politicians on bogus terrorism charges will solve nothing.”

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Dubai screens passengers from China amid virus outbreak

Updated 9 min 1 sec ago

Dubai screens passengers from China amid virus outbreak

  • The UAE said it was free of the coronavirus
  • China is the UAE’s top trading partner

DUBAI: Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs, said Thursday it would carry out thermal screening of all passengers arriving from China amid an outbreak of a deadly virus.
The move goes further than other major transport hubs in Europe and the United States, which have limited their screening to passengers coming from Wuhan, the city at the center of the scare.
“Dubai Airports confirms... that all passengers arriving on direct flights from the People’s Republic of China must receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival,” a statement said.
China has locked down two major cities including Wuhan to fight the coronavirus that has already claimed 17 lives and spread to a number of other countries.
Dubai’s government said on Thursday that some 989,000 Chinese tourists visited the glitzy emirate last year and that the number was expected to cross the one-million mark in 2020. Some 3.6 million Chinese transited through the airport in 2019.
“The screening will be conducted on secured, closed gates at the airport by Dubai Health Authority and its Airport Medical Center team,” the statement said.
The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.
Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.
Dubai International Airport in 2018 served 89.15 million passengers, retaining its world-number-one spot of welcoming the largest number of foreign passengers for the fifth year in a row.
There was no announcement as yet from authorities in the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi which also has a large airport.
Dozens of flights operate weekly between Chinese cities and Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
China is the UAE’s top trading partner and Abu Dhabi is among the 15 top crude suppliers to Beijing. Several hundred Chinese companies have offices in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates’ health ministry said Wednesday that the Gulf state with a population of 10 million — about 90 percent of them foreigners — was free of the coronavirus, and that it had taken sufficient measures to face the disease.
“The health situation poses no grounds for concern and the ministry is closely following up on the situation to ensure the health and safety of everyone,” it said.