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Turkey criticized for closing pro-Kurdish political party

Amnesty International has expressed its concern that a court in Turkey has shut down a pro-Kurdish political party under laws that fail to meet international standards. The 11 judges of the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously in favour of closing down the Democratic Society Party (DTP) on Friday. The court also ruled that 37 DTP members be banned from politics for five years. Among those banned were the DTP co-chair Ahmet Türk MP, Aysel Tugluk, MP for Diyarbakir, and four elected regional mayors. The DTP was formed in 2005 after a closure case was brought against the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP). The DTP has 21 members in the national parliament following elections in 2007, along with numerous elected local officials. The DTP was closed on the grounds that its activities conflicted with the "independence of the state, its indivisible integrity within its territory and nation." The case was launched on 16 November 2007 when the Supreme Court of Cassation Chief Prosecutor presented the application to the Constitutional Court. Political parties in Turkey have frequently been closed by rulings of the Constitutional Court. Many of those closed are parties promoting Kurdish identity. The ruling Justice and Development Party narrowly avoided closure in July 2008 when a complaint that the party was a focus of anti-secular activities failed to receive the support of the required majority of judges. The European Court of Human Rights has previously issued a series of judgments finding Turkey to have violated the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the closure of political parties.