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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 01:27 GMT
Fears for Kurd officials in Turkey
Barbed wire in the town of Lice
Signs of the conflict which has scarred the south-east
By Chris Morris in Istanbul

Leaders of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (Hadep) in Turkey say they are extremely concerned about the safety of two party officials who went missing a week ago.

The two men, Serdar Tanif and Ebubekir Deniz, were last seen when they were summoned to a camp run by the security forces in the south-eastern town of Silopi.

They had just opened a new branch office there for Hadep.

Hadep supporters make victory signs outside their congress last year
Hadep wants greater cultural rights for ethnic Kurds
Even before it opened, the men said they had been threatened by the local security forces.

Hadep is by far the most popular party in the mainly-Kurdish south-east of the country.

But many members of the security forces regard it as the political wing of the Kurdish rebel movement, the PKK.

Mr Tanif and Mr Deniz were ordered to go to the local gendarmerie camp on 25 January.

Eyewitnesses confirm that they went inside, but they have not been seen since.

Police shootings

After Hadep officials complained to the Interior Ministry, the gendarmes in Silopi said the two men were not under arrest.

They had, the gendarmes said, left the camp after half an hour.

Hadep believes the two men have been abducted or worse, and the party holds the gendarmerie responsible for their safety.

Unexplained disappearances used to be all too frequent in the south-east, but an incident like this has not occurred for some time.

Mr Tanif and Mr Deniz disappeared the day after six police officers were shot dead in the nearby city of Diyarbakir.

Now Hadep says that there may be a deliberate attempt to destabilise the south-east, which has been enjoying its most peaceful period for many years.

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See also:

09 Feb 00 | Europe
PKK ends war with Turkey
21 Nov 00 | Europe
A people divided by borders
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Europe's well-connected Kurds
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