New Constitution and BDP’s red lines
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
KCK head Karayılan has said they were expecting constitutional reforms. AFP photoWhen the Head of the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Board Murat Karayılan explained Thursday at the Kandil Mountains base that they were expecting constitutional reforms in the second phase following the withdrawal, eyes turned to the Parliament naturally. A foursome consensus is not expected from the Parliament Constitution Conciliation Commission. Probably, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will continue on its path with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in May. Even though among BDP circles formulas such as “partial change” or “transitional Constitution” are being voiced, the real target is to write a new Constitution embracing the Kurds.
BDP has conducted a comprehensive study on this matter. Even though a large portion of this study has been brought to the attention of the Constitution Conciliation Commission, it was not emphasized much and was not publicly debated; whereas, during the process, in a probable AKP-BDP partnership, the Kurdish wing is preparing to bring articles with extremely critical “sine qua non” content to the table.
Topping the proposals, which contain features of “red lines” for the Kurds, are “equal citizenship, equal representation.” While the BDP wants “We, the people of Turkey” written openly in the Constitution preamble, it says: “We believe all individuals and people have universal human rights and freedoms. We regard everybody equal regardless of their race, language, sect, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background and any similar discrimination. All different identities, cultures, languages and beliefs existing in Turkey are under the assurance of this constitution...” BDP sees this definition as “the charter of the intention of cohabitation...”
BDP has important demands regarding the characteristics of the state of the Republic of Turkey, maybe in which it overlaps with the AKP the most in this aspect: “the Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state based on human rights and the rule of law. The state recognizes the pluralism regarding ideologies, religions, beliefs and life styles and remains neutral before the pluralist structure of the society. No ideology, religion, belief or life style can be protected or guarded by the state.”
The “sine qua non” of our present Constitution, the “Atatürk principles and nationalism” emphasis is not included in the BDP draft preamble, just like the AKP draft. However, the BDP does not have any problems with the symbols of the state. It does not oppose the flag, national anthem or the capital city. However, differing from the present constitution on the language issue, it favors the expression, “The state’s official language is Turkish.” The BDP, with this, wants to open the way to mother tongue education.
AKP defines Turkish as the “official language” in its draft. The BDP says, “Other main languages people of Turkey speak may be used as second official languages upon decisions of local governments. Everybody has the right to use their own mother tongue alongside the official language in their private life and in their relations with public authorities.”
Even though the BDP spokespeople have implied that they were open to negotiations for the presidential system, they have prepared a draft that adopts the current legislation and execution systems.
BDP proposed that the president is elected every five years, for a maximum of two terms; also it wants legislative power to belong to the “550-seat parliament and regional assemblies.” The BDP regards regional assemblies as a step to “local autonomy.” In contrast to the AKP, the BDP is also in favor of regional autonomous public administrations and local public administrations being elected.
One of BDP’s distinct red lines is the definition of “citizenship.” BDP prioritizes this definition in the article for “Citizens of Turkey.” BDP proposes, “In obtaining, maintaining and losing citizenship of Turkey, no differentiation is made regarding language, religion, race, ethnic background, culture, gender, sexual orientation and similar differences.”
The BDP, different from AKP, CHP and MHP, asks for constitutional assurances for “conscientious objection” and for the “right to cultural identity.”
Unless there are developments that disrupt the process, then it is expected that the four-party-commission will disperse in May, and the AKP and the BDP will get together for a new Constitution and decide on a calendar. The proposals coming from Öcalan, Kandil and the BDP and the stance of the AKP point to a tough May. Obviously, the last month of spring will be occupied with “withdrawal” and consequently debates on the “new Constitution…”
LEGAL GUARANTEE FOR 'DISARMAMENT'
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), in contrast with the other parties, demands that the following is written in the Constitution: “Everybody has a right to live in peace and in a disarmed society.” The BDP proposes that the state takes measures for to make it difficult to access arms, in a sense, attempting to carry the peace process to the constitutional platform on a permanent basis. The BDP also proposes that constitutional assurances are given for the “setting up of a Parliamentary commission to determine war damages, compensation, and for mine clearing.
MEASURES FOR MINORITIES, ROMA
In its new constitutional draft, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has asked for Constitutional assurance for the return of property belonging to minority foundations that were registered under the Directorate General of Foundations. The draft asks for necessary legal arrangements to be made for compensation and to harmonize property rights with international law. The BDP also proposes that radical arrangements are made to raise the life standards of Roma citizens and to erase the traces of discrimination.