‘99 pct’ of Kurd armed campaign is over: BDP co-chair
BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş insists that parliamentary involvement is a must for the withdrawal of PKK militants. DAILY NEWS photoThe outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) armed campaign has come to an effective end, but the group’s militants will only withdraw from Turkish soil if a parliamentary panel is formed to monitor the retreat, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said.
“Ninety-nine percent of the armed struggle originating from the Kurdish issue is now over. [The resolution of] the remaining 1 percent is up to the government now,” Demirtaş told reporters in Diyarbakır on March 22.
“Our suggestion is that Parliament should form a commission drawn up by parliamentarians to monitor the retreat process. If that occurs, Parliament could adopt the required legislation within 15 days,” Demirtaş told private IMC TV late March 21.
Demirtaş was commenting on jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s historic Nevruz message read out during celebrations in Diyarbakır on March 21, in which he declared a cease-fire and called on armed militants to withdraw from Turkish soil, indicating that these moves would mark a milestone for “a new era” and herald the building of a “new Turkey.”
Following Öcalan’s call, discussion has begun on the logistics of the withdrawal.
Öcalan did not mention Parliament’s involvement in his Nevruz message, but he had already called on the legislature to become involved in peace efforts initiated by the government in a message released after a parliamentarian visit to his İmralı island prison on March 18.
“I hope that the Parliament will do its part in line with the historical mission on its shoulders with the same rapidness for the rapid realization of the withdrawal [of PKK militants] and to secure a permanent peace,” Öcalan said in that message.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking to a group of reporters on March 21, expressed his reluctance at involving Parliament in securing the withdrawal process. “Parliament has no responsibilities regarding the withdrawal. There is a government in Turkey. It is the addressee. The government will do what it should do,” he said.
“In the past, some executions occurred during a PKK withdrawal. ... We will not be the promoter of such executions,” Erdoğan said, referring to military operations in 1999 that killed over 500 PKK militants as they were withdrawing from Turkey after a call from Öcalan to do so following his capture in Kenya. Such executions also reportedly occurred during another unilateral decision to withdraw in 2004.
But Demirtaş insisted that parliamentary involvement was a must for the withdrawal of PKK militants.
“Mr. Öcalan told us during our meeting [on March 18] that withdrawal will not be possible without a parliamentary decision,” he told IMC TV.
A wise persons’ commission should be formed simultaneously with the parliamentary panel to monitor and supervise the withdrawal, according to the BDP co-chair.
By forming a commission to monitor the process, Parliament would declare its intention to reach a resolution, Demirtaş said.
“Parliament should declare its will for the ultimate and peaceful resolution of the three-decade-old armed conflict. In any case, the parliamentary panel will not be in a position to watch the withdrawal process at the top of mountains or in the middle of valleys. What is important here is the declaration of a political will for the withdrawal process,” he said, while calling on the government to include Parliament in the process.
“We are talking about a problem of a 30-year-old conflict and war. If a resolution is to occur, the government cannot say: ‘I’m closing my eyes and turning my face away. You may withdraw but do so sneakingly.’ This is not possible,” Demirtaş said.