Democracy with contradictions

Democracy with contradictions

Taksim Square was like a desert. There were only journalists and police. I could not decide which group was more crowded. Another group was politicians, who started appearing around noon.

With one of those politician groups, we sat down and started chatting in the hotel facing Taksim Square, courageous enough to open its café to outsiders and serve, the café of Taxim Hill.

No, our topic was not May Day and the despot state; it was the Kurdish issue and the “Peace Process.” It was as if we were searching for answers to a question that did not have any answer.

The question that does not have an answer is this: “Is it the same government that says it will solve the Kurdish issue and terror with more democracy and freedom – and the one that has initiated a process to that end – that uses a pothole as an excuse to confine all of Istanbul to their homes, and which has used nearly 40,000 policemen to stop a few thousand people who dared to step outside their homes, a government that instructs that the heart of the city be covered under a cloud of gas?”

If you wish, you can also ask this question to yourself. Yes, it is the same government doing both of these things. Or, let me say it in other words: It does one of them; it promises to do the other.

In the “Reconciliation Process” essentially the issue is a “confidence issue.”

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), one way or the other, has trusted the democratization and liberation that the government has said “I will do,” and has started withdrawing from Turkey.

Those criticizing the process do not trust the government; they say, “You absolutely must have done some secret negotiations; you must have given away some things that you are not telling us.”

A portion of the liberals, especially after the May Day incidents, have started saying that they do not trust the government anymore, saying, “Would a person who wants and who has truly adopted democracy do this?” They draw attention to the distance between what the ruling Justice and Development Party (Ak Party) says it will do and what it does in reality.

However, despite all these critics and criticisms, the trust, the support for the “resolution process” and for the government that conducts this process are increasing. The general support, which was around 58 percent at the beginning, is now nearing 70 percent, the latest data reveals.

Apparently, the government regards, naturally, the trust people have for it above everything else.

What happened to the Human Rights action plan?

Actually, it is obvious what needs to be done after this in the “resolution process.” The government has a roadmap.

The 35-item document titled “Human Rights Action Plan” prepared meticulously by the Justice Ministry and which constitutes one of the significant criteria for harmonization with the EU has not been brought to the agenda of the Cabinet yet.

This document lists whatever Turkey needs to do in the field of human rights not only in the context of the Kurdish issue but in a general context; it sets a calendar of things to do.

It is only a portion of the roadmap, the endorsement of the Human Rights Action Plan. There is also the legislation work of the political order. In other words, there are topics such as the amendment of the Political Party Law and the lowering of the election threshold.

All these topics are included in the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) 16-item “What Needs to be Done” list.

If you ask me, the Ak Party should not be concerned that they might say, “They did it because the CHP told them to,” but benefit from any useful proposal regardless of where it is coming from.

Who knows, maybe in this way it will be possible to have the CHP board the “resolution train.”

İsmet Berkan is a columnist for daily Hürriyet, in which this piece was published May 3. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.