Government must come to its senses, BDP co-chair Demirtaş says

Government must come to its senses, BDP co-chair Demirtaş says

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Government must come to its senses, BDP co-chair Demirtaş says

The body of an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) member, who was killed in a clash with Turkish troops last year, was given to his family on June 16. A ceremony was held in Beytüşşebap.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has warned the government over its recently adopted rhetoric, called for government figures to "come to their senses" concerning the ongoing Kurdish peace process.

Demirtaş, speaking to a group of journalists on June 18, stressed that he was not being uncompromising, softening his stance compared to the speech given to his party’s parliamentary group meeting earlier on the same day, where he said: “The government is about to lock the process.”

Demirtaş, whose party is closely involved in the process aiming to end the three-decade long armed conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reiterated his criticism against the government’s “interventionist” approach to the parliamentary delegations of the BDP that are meeting with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK serving a life-sentence on Imrali Island prison. 

“We are not expecting anything from the courts. The government shall change the laws and release the people and these people shall not be penalized or tried anymore. Am I saying that ‘the process will stop if this is not done’? No, the process may still make progress but in such a case we would not be able to resume our current mission, role,” he said, in an apparent reference to the ongoing detention of hundreds of BDP members in relation to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) probes.

“This is not being uncompromising, ending or any other attitude. This is a warning. The government must come to its senses,” Demirtaş said.

Demirtaş is critical of the rhetoric of the government, as well as that of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, particularly over referring to Öcalan as “the leader of terrorists, the leader of separatists." "Can the process be executed with such rhetoric? The one you call ‘the leader of terrorists, the leader of separatists’ stopped the 30-year-old war in Turkey with a single call. He is withdrawing his armed forces without any return, any negotiation,” he said.

Legal reforms

Reaffirming his party’s will to continue working on the legal reforms in order to pave the way for peace, the BDP leader said that they asked for a meeting with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to discuss the matter. Submitting a mini-package of legal reforms would be an important step for the government to assure sincerity, he maintained, while urging for the early opening of the Parliament, following its likely closure in early July, so that deputies could start working on the legal amendments.

He also commented on the planned social media regulations after the Gezi protests, saying this was part of a continuous security-oriented point of view. “You could say only two sentences, and the country would reach peace at once: ‘We understood you, you are right, we will not intervene in your private life, your lifestyle. We will respect your identity, your belief,’” he said. “This would not mean losing.”


The body of Zeki Erdem, a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, was handled to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members on June 17 after a ceremony held by some 20 PKK militants on Turkish soil.

The handover took place at Mount Kato in the southeastern province of Şırnak.

Erdem was killed on July 14 last year in a clash with the Turkish Army. His family’s request to have their son’s grave in his hometown was accepted by officials and the handover was completed with a crowd.