Kurdish Conference finally to convene
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Independent deputy Leyla Zana (R) and Masoud Barzani (L), the head of the Regional Kurdish Administration in north Iraq, are seen at a conference on Feb 20.
Kurds living in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran have been planning to hold a Kurdish conference for a long time, but with the interruption of national-international equilibriums, they were not able to organize it until today. In the second half of 2011, the initiatives of co-presidents of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk were in vain, but initiatives for holding a Kurdish conference have since started again.
Will the Kurds this time succeed in getting together despite all the pressure? I asked Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-president Gültan Kışanak to answer this question. Kışanak emphasized that it was not easy for the Kurds - living within the borders of four separate states - to convene a Kurdish conference or to adopt a joint stance. Was this the reason the congress had been obstructed for years? Kışanak replied that it was a situation that the four states and the international powers would monitor carefully, raising the question: “Why are the Kurds are convening? The issue of a United Kurdistan has the potential to activate everybody.”
I openly asked Kışanak: “Do you have a united Kurdistan as your ultimate goal?” She smiled and replied with the same openness: “No. The Kurds do not intend to adopt this political stance by organizing such a conference. Almost all of the Kurdish organizations are struggling to gain essential rights and freedoms within the boundaries of the country they live in, according to the law of equality. Without damaging this perception, they want to get together to discuss what responsibilities the Kurds have for each other, what they need to do for each other.”
Kışanak thinks that in the wake of current developments in the Middle East, organizing such a conference has become easier. In an environment where the Middle East is being re-designed, Syria and Iran are classified as countries “to be intervened in” and Turkey as a country “to intervene,” Kışanak reminded that Kurds were living in all three of those countries. “It is impossible to proceed in the redesigning process without realizing they could be an important actor in this geography.”
Kışanak explained that correspondence among Kurds across the region was ongoing and that there would be a preparatory committee formed soon, with three representatives participating from each of the four countries. The committee will decide on the components of the conference, its agenda, content and aims. A consensus has emerged that the conference will meet in June.
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the umbrella platform of the Kurds in Turkey, the DTK, are likely to participate in the conference. But it seems that the real debate will center around the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in four countries, as some Kurdish groups are discussing whether or not the PKK will be included in the conference. If violence escalates in spring, this debate will get even tougher.
The Kurds will be focusing on the process until June. As for what the governments of the four countries think, we will understand soon.
Gov’t to make touches to terror law
The anti-terror law (TMY), which has been revised a number of times during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 10-year rule, and which is widely considered to be responsible for significant restrictions to freedom of thought and expression, is to be “touched.”
Talking in the corridors of Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said exactly this: “There is a new package prepared in the Justice Ministry. It is expected to arrive in March. This package will contain arrangements so that all thoughts are speeches that do not contain violence will be free from prosecution. It will amend several existing laws, including the Anti-Terror Law.”
Obviously, verdicts from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), compensation paid, and the warnings of the West have brought the government to the stage where it is reviewing the TMY. Let’s see to what extent the wishes of today open the way to freedoms in the draft law, which is to be submitted to Parliament in March.
Is the republıcan people’s party splitting?
The double congress phenomenon has brought up the possibility that the main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP) might break up. Will this picture bring an actual separation in the CHP in the future? Will the Deniz Baykal-Önder Sav’s “traditional-nationalist” line - which accuses the party of shift of axis - split with the “reformist” line identified with the policies of the present leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu? Will old CHP and new CHP signs be put up in different centers? I tested the waters with some of the CHP’s most significant names. They say that unless Kılıçdaroğlu forms a party assembly structure able to embrace the party in the possible June congress, separation might become a possibility. They think this debate could resemble the separation of the Social Democratic People’s Party (SHP) and CHP in 1992. Kılıçdaroğlu’s job in the June congress looks like a tough one.