Dec 15 2017

Turkey “reminded me of scenes from Belfast” during troubles - British politician

A British politician who travelled as an international observer to witness the trials of his counterparts in southeast Turkey said his experiences reminded him of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

“If the Turkish authorities can treat people like ourselves, who are international observers, the way they did last week, then I would be quite fearful on how they treat their own citizens,” Paul Maskey, who was elected Sinn Fein member of parliament for Belfast West, told leftist British news website The Canary.

“We were not allowed any access at all into the court,” he said. “I think the Turkish authorities were hiding something.”

Maskey, who has not taken up his seat as an Irish nationalist who refuses to take a loyalty oath to the British queen, called on the British government to do more to pressure Turkey to honour its human rights commitments.

The actions of policemen outside the courthouse where the majority-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were being tried “reminded me of scenes from Belfast many, many years ago,” he said. “Thankfully we’ve moved away from that in Belfast.”

From the late 1960s to a peace agreement in 1998, Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, was racked by conflict between Irish republican paramilitaries who wanted the area to be united with the rest of the island of Ireland, paramilitaries loyal to Britain and British security forces.

Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ are being tried on terror charges based on allegations that they support Kurdish separatism and the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been involved in a bloody conflict in southeast Turkey intermittently since 1984.


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