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Kurds challenge Turkey in European court

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Members of a former pro-Kurdish political party in Turkey filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights, saying the party was shut down illegally.

The petition filed to the European court in Strasbourg by Hasip Kaplan, the former head of the Democratic Society Party and now the head of the Peace and Democracy Party, said the Republic of Turkey's Constitutional Court cannot be impartial, as it was established by the military junta that overran the government on Sept. 12, 1980, Today's Zaman reported Thursday.

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The Constitutional Court said on Dec. 11 the DTP was guilty of ethnic separatist action and of having connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party. The court closed down the party and banned 37 members from further political activity, Zaman reported.

The 78-page petition alleges the Constitutional Court violated rights such as freedom of expression, organization and assembly, as well as Kurds' rights to freedom from discrimination, and the right to free elections.

Historically, the Strasbourg court has ruled against Turkey's party closures and has ruled that the right to organize was violated, Zaman reported.

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