Government plans to complete anti-PKK ops in January

Government plans to complete anti-PKK ops in January

Government plans to complete anti-PKK ops in January

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoğlu (2 R) is seen speaking at a construction site in Istanbul where the third bridge crossing the strait is being built. AA Photo

Security operations in Southeast Anatolia against alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will be completed by the end of January at the latest, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“We are going over the situation carefully in order not to lead to a disadvantaged situation for Turkey if these practices are taken to the Constitutional Court and the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights],” Davutoğlu said during Jan. 5-6 meetings of the AKP’s high decision-making body, the MYK.

Amid focus from the ECHR in ongoing violence in Turkey’s southeast, military operations against the PKK in densely populated urban zones are coming under increasing scrutiny. 

Davutoğlu chaired two meetings of the decision-making body that featured briefings on the ongoing operations.

Legal action has been taken against 18 mayors and 48 municipals council members from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish problem, as clashes continue, with some MYK members demanding swifter action against HDP municipalities that the government says have been lending logistical support to the PKK. At a late December 2015 meeting, AKP executives discussed ongoing curfews in a number of southeastern towns during operations. Although curfews are purportedly designed to avoid harming civilians, officials also said disturbing images of human rights abuses by police during operations should be avoided and that the purported support of locals against the PKK should be put to good use.

Also in late December 2015, the HDP applied to the ECHR after Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by HDP Deputy Co-Chair Meral Danış Beştaş against the ongoing declaration of curfews in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions. 

The ECHR subsequently asked Ankara to submit a defense statement over the ongoing curfew in the southeastern city of Cizre by Jan. 8. Meanwhile, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Jan. 8 that Davutoğlu is “eager to return to resolution table.” A fragile peace process and two-and-a-half-year de facto cease-fire collapsed in the summer of 2015. The report cited a Jan. 6 meeting between Davutoğlu and “a group of intellectuals calling for peace,” referring to observations of the meeting participants who wished to remain anonymous.

“Both the ruling party and [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan are aware that the current situation is not sustainable,” one participant told Cumhuriyet when asked whether a return to the table would be possible. Erdoğan recently claimed that Turkey “no longer has a Kurdish problem, only a terrorism problem.”

When asked who would sit around the prospective table as a counterpart, the same participant responded it would likely be “Kurdish circles who are close to the AKP.” The group – composed of Oya Baydar, Baskın Oran, Ayşe Erzan, Nesrin Nas, Raci Bilici, Selim Ölçer, Nurcan Baysal, Gülseren Onanç, Ahmet Faruk Ünsal, Tarık Çelenk, Ali Bayramoğlu, Kezban Hatemi and Mebuse Tekay – also held meetings with the leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP on the same day.

Davutoğlu is willing to take further steps that involve the HDP, but Erdoğan and certain hardline figures in the government favor the continuation of security-based policies, Cumhuriyet also reported.

Reminded of calls for the parliamentary immunity of the two HDP co-chairs to be lifted, the source suggested that those calls will likely “remain politically delivered remarks.” 

“In particular, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has frequently underlined their willingness to resolve the matter at parliament and through dialogue,” Cumhuriyet quoted them as saying.