BDP to exit charter commission?

BDP to exit charter commission?

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
BDP to exit charter commission

Parliament speaker Çicek announce that the commission will break until Aug. 1. AA photo

The Parliament Constitution Conciliation Commission has drafted more than 20 articles in the “Essential Rights and Freedoms” chapter. However, this does not mean that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), all of which have representatives in the commission, have agreed on all of them. The articles are being written with a “parenthesis” formula in which a party’s suggestions are recorded in parentheses as “reservations” if it objects a draft article and then postponed until the end of the chapter. For this reason, the number of articles that all four parties have agreed on can be counted on the fingers of one hand even though the commission has been working on the draft for about two and a half months.

Right at one such parenthesis stage, the BDP said “enough.” In an atmosphere where debate on outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s “house arrest” is ongoing and the grassroots of the party are reacting, it drew its number one red line. When the commission was drafting the article on “essentials about crime and punishment,” the BDP made a proposal that was perceived to be focused on İmralı, the island prison where Öcalan is incarcerated, saying: “No torture, cruelty, humiliating and derogatory treatment can be exerted on the arrested and the convicted. With the aim of destroying the arrested or convicted person’s identity, decreasing his intellectual and physical capacity, all kinds of enforcements and isolation on the mind and on the body and aggravating conditions cannot be exerted.”

The first objection to the proposal came from MHP member Oktay Öztürk, who said, “This is an Öcalan clause; it is unacceptable.” CHP commission member Süheyl Batum said, “If this is so, then we will not support it either.” AKP member Ahmet İyimaya also refused to agree to the proposal, saying, “This arrangement should be a law, not in the Constitution.” The debate on the Öcalan clause has extremely strained the BDP. Commission Chairman Cemil Çiçek stepped in and created a formula in which the commission will break until Aug. 1 to postpone the crisis.

Well, what will the BDP do in this situation? Will it withdraw from the commission or continue as if nothing has happened? The BDP will thoroughly debate the issue in a camp retreat. I spoke to BDP members of the commission who said they knew things were not going well. On the most essential topics, even on freedoms, there is no consensus. They said they were having difficulty overcoming the “prohibitive mindset of the 1982 Constitution.” When I asked whether the BDP would leave the table, a major portion of the BDP said, “It will not withdraw but will express itself in one way. It will react to the opposition to its proposals. The stage of leaving the table has not been reached yet, but if this repressive mindset, this attitude disregarding freedoms continues, that stage could come one day.”

There are two views apparent in the BDP. The first is the hawk wing’s attitude of “we should leave immediately,” and the second is what co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and friends argue, namely, that the stance of “we should maintain our identity and stay at the table until the end.” It is apparent that this pressure has had a serious effect on the BDP’s latest outburst at the commission. All of these have been calculated and the latest outburst had two targets.

By sticking to the Öcalan clause, the BDP wants to give a message to both the region and to the commission. Another message is to the government. The BDP thinks the commission, which has been formed with more than 90 percent representation, cannot proceed without the Kurds. The BDP administration wants to use this stake (according to the deal, if one party withdraws, the commission ends) to open a door to a new process. Using these methods, it wants to reach an environment where the isolation of Öcalan will end, a new platform for negotiations will be created and the Kurdish initiative will restart.

I don’t know whether the BDP’s efforts to shape the process by using the new constitution platform will succeed but, based on my sources, the BDP will not withdraw from the commission at this stage. On the contrary, it will use that platform much more effectively after Aug. 1 – that’s if the consequences of the assault on BDP deputies in Diyarbakır on July 14 and other such factors do not change the course of events.

A position for Numan Kurtulmuş

If People’s Voice Party (HAS Party) Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş joins the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which position will he take? Some argue that Kurtulmuş will become prime minister if Erdoğan becomes president, while some say PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is giving a message to President Abdullah Gül. There are others who find such positions as deputy premier, minister, deputy chairman of the party or mayor of Istanbul suitable for him. Kurtulmuş has not stepped into the AKP yet but there are comments such as “because he has stayed away from the AKP for 10 years, that would prevent him from becoming prime minister in the short term.” The first whisper is that Erdoğan will take Kurtulmuş into the party administration in the big congress in fall.

New CHP manifesto from Kılıçdaroğlu

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) congress will be held this week. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is preparing a “new CHP manifesto.” The manifesto based on democracy and freedoms will also outline a new program that is an alternative to the government. To counter the “nationalist-conservative” efforts of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Kılıçdaroğlu will make a unity-integration proclamation embracing all the colors of the left. He will point out that CHP is the right address to unite against the AKP to all those voters that happen to be outside the CHP and at all ranges of the left from social democrats and socialists to those in the center. Kılıçdaroğlu will also extend an olive branch to the party’s domestic opposition, primarily Deniz Baykal and Önder Sav.