Government puts last Kurdish plan touches

Government puts last Kurdish plan touches

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Government puts last Kurdish plan touches

Prime Minister Erdoğan is expected to announce the details of a democratization package next week, including the right to education in mother tongue.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan headed a meeting Sept. 13 to finalize the highly anticipated democratization package, as senior Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) officials urged the continuation of the peace process, even though they have low expectations of the content of the upcoming reform package.

“The first four democratization packages were unsatisfactory. This package risks not satisfying us either but the process should go on. No one should dare to end this process,” BDP’s deputy group chair Pervin Buldan told the Hürriyet Daily News on Sept. 13 before the government was set to convene to make the last changes on what it has called a comprehensive democratization package.

Prime Minister Erdoğan is expected to announce the details of the package, which will not include the right to education in a person’s mother tongue, next week.

Noting that they had low expectations, Buldan said “We are not expecting that this package will include and meet all demands, but there is hope, at least. The government should include some issues which will relieve the Turkish public opinion and offer solutions to the peace process in the package. There are expectations on amendments to the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and Turkish Criminal Code (TCK), release of KCK member members under arrest, sick prisoners, freedom of belief, removing discrimination, the issue of the mother tongue and issues concerning women.”

While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) continues its efforts, the democratization package is likely to take shape late on Sept. 13, which constitutes a key aspect of the peace process, aiming to end the three-decade-long conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Yet, it is unlikely that it will meet the key demands by Kurds, the foremost being education in mother tongue.

In the meantime, the office of the prime ministry denied reports that the package was first sent to İmralı Island where the PKK’s chieftain Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence for his consideration. Öcalan is the main interlocutor of the government’s efforts in resolving the Kurdish question. The BDP’S co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş said a delegation from the party could visit İmralı Island over this weekend.

The Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), known as the urban wing of the PKK, has stopped the withdrawal of armed militants, since the government did not take action until the beginning of Sept.; yet the ceasefire remained intact, as a part of the expectation that the process would continue even if with modest steps.

Mother tongue issue left to future

The BDP places the mother tongue issue as a red line, yet knowing that the AKP will not take a step on that prior to elections; they seem to have accepted that the issue will be brought to the agenda in the future, in later packages.

“Education in their mother tongue is Kurds’ red line. We will never step back from this issue. We think that even if it is not included in this package, the AKP must definitely take it into agenda later on. If Mr. [Deputy Prime Minister Bülent] Arınç too expresses that it could be dealt with in the Constitution, a solution can be found there. Apart from the discussion on whether it is included in this package or not, we are looking from the point that this issue must definitely come before Turkey. If not in this package, the AKP must take it into its agenda in the future,” Buldan said.

In Diyarbakır, the head of the Democratic Society Congress Ahmet Türk said they had issued a statement to all party organizations to call for a week-long education boycott in Southeastern Anatolia in reaction to the government’s rejection of the right to education in one’s mother tongue.

 ‘Nobody should dare to end process’

Buldan also informed that a visit to the İmralı Island, where the imprisoned leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan is held, is likely to take place this weekend, or if not, within the next week, where she will be accompanied by the BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş. Öcalan is expected to send a message based on the gravity of the package’s content.

“At this point we arrived, the AKP must act sincerely; nobody should attempt to end this process. What [Abdullah] Öcalan will say is important but there cannot be anything aiming to end the process from our front. Such thing will not happen,” Buldan said, affirming their hope in the process.

In response to a question from the Daily News on how the process will evolve should their expectations not be met, Buldan said, “The process is going on. Withdrawal has stopped but the ceasefire is going on. We will have a meeting with Öcalan. His opinions are very important. They will be decisive in this process. However, we want peace and I think that the process will not be interrupted [...] Nobody should waste the process,” Buldan warned.