BDP set to hit streets to urge democratic steps

BDP set to hit streets to urge democratic steps

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
BDP set to hit streets to urge democratic steps

This June 23 photo shows a large group of BDP supporters marching during a demonstration to attract attention to the increasing use of drugs and prostitution. The party is now preparing to hit the streets to force the government to take democratization steps as a part of the ongoing peace process. DHA photo

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has announced that it will be convening rallies over the course of the summer in order to urge the government to take steps forward in the “peace process.”

“Therefore, to say ‘Government, take a step’, we will walk city by city, square by square, park by park with all the forces who want democracy and a perpetual peace. With the ‘Government, take a step’ rallies, we will continue our campaign - which will start on Sunday, June 30 in Amed [the Kurdish name of Diyarbakır], Mersin and Adana - throughout the summer to stop the construction of police stations and dams, to free sick prisoners and political convicts, for native tongue education, to reduce the election threshold, for justice in Roboski [the Kurdish name of Uludere], to abolish the village guards system, to free [jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, leader] Mr. Öcalan, and for more democracy and freedom,” the BDP said on June 28, referring to the main issues they want the government to tackle.

The announcement came in a written statement released by the party’s headquarters in Ankara. It came as a result of June 27-28 meetings of the BDP Party Assembly and the Central Executive Board, which were held in Diyarbakır.

First phase of process over: BDP

The BDP has been urging the government to take action in the mode of legal reform which they referred to as the “second phase,” as the “first phase” of the peace process, i.e. the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkey, is deemed 80 percent complete by the BDP. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, recently said that only 10 or 15 percent had actually left.

While the “first phase” of the peace process has been defined as the withdrawal of the members of the PKK, the “second phase” is characterized as legal reforms to be initiated by the government, as defined by the BDP.
“We have had the first official negotiations of the peace process,” BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said in a speech in Diyarbakır on June 21 while addressing his party’s deputies. “The government says it has preparations. The issue may be made public next week.” 

However, Prime Minister Erdoğan signaled that the government had plans neither to lower the election threshold nor to enable education in mother tongue on June 26. These two demands are among the highlights of what the BDP demands from the government, as part of legal reforms necessary for the peace process to succeed.

“Parties should work hard to pass it,” Erdoğan said in reference to the election threshold, adding with regard to mother tongue education that “the only official language is Turkish.” He stressed that Kurdish was now offered as an elective course in schools and also as private lessons, while also noting that Kurdish language departments were now open in universities.

The BDP statement also touched upon the Gezi Park protests, underlining their relevance to the peace process. “The steps government should take are not only the demands of the Kurdish people, [they are] the joint demands of all segments [of society]. The incidents that have been going on for days and identified as Gezi demonstrations, originally started as a demand for more democracy and freedom. The ones who started the Gezi demonstrations wanted to make the decisions which concern them, and objected to interference with their lives,” the statement read.