THE CORRIDOR - ‘Democratic autonomy’ in Diyarbakır

THE CORRIDOR - ‘Democratic autonomy’ in Diyarbakır

“Kurds have issued their verdict; the solution will come about independently of the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party]. The Kurds’ patience and tolerance have run out. Our people are sufficiently organized to establish their own democracy and to live in that system, if things do not work out with the state,” said Aysel Tuğluk, vice chairwoman of the Democratic Turkey Congress, or DTK.

Tuğluk also made a suggestion: “Kurds are facing the responsibility to find their own solutions and build their own solutions. The time is now for building the democratic autonomy solution with [our] own will and organization.”

The democratic autonomy issue Tuğluk has been talking about is being served into a public discussion in advance of the elections. It seems that Kurds have already begun to practice the project through relevant pilot implementations.

In neighborhoods, villages and hamlets where they live, Kurds are setting up their own assemblies by getting organized. DTK member Cemal Coşkun has confirmed the implementations. The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP’s, media organ, the “Voice of Peace,” recently covered the issue. Through a 50-village commune in Diyarbakır, 21 local councils, four district councils and the city council, social, political, economic and cultural autonomy demands are being actualized.

“Village communes” have been set up in Diyarbakır for the first time. A commune consisting of 50 villages in the Bağlar district in Diyarbakır is being founded while works continue in other villages in other districts. In villages as part of communes, councils consisting of 11 or 13 members, depending on the village population, are being set up. Every village has spokespersons, one of whom is woman. Such a model is identical with the BDP’s co-chairmanship model.

Though against the law, individuals who are violating council rules are being punished. For instance, individuals who beat women, who usurp properties of others, who are involved in immoral ways of living and who attempt polygamy are first being warned by the commune and then if the person continues misbehaviors, he or she is driven out of the commune.

In Diyarbakır, nine councils have been set up in the Bağlar district, five in Kayapınar, four in Sur in addition to three neighborhood councils, which are the smallest administrative unit. Neighborhood councils aim to bring neighbors together, discuss common issues and find solutions, consisting of an average of 20-30 members. Each has two spokespersons, one of whom is woman. Even a disciplinary council exists within a neighborhood council.

Problems, fights and discussions taking place in a neighborhood are directly resolved in the “Neighborhood Justice Commission” rather than official units. For instance, against drugs, prostitution, robbery, or usurps a neighborhood council directly interferes as a dimension of the democratic autonomy model. If warning is not enough, individuals committing the said crimes are exposed in public and are removed from the region.

The city council is the largest body in the region. This has not been formed yet. The goal is to have 450 members in the prospective council. The executive council convenes weekly while the general council meets monthly. The city council covers all and organizes a convention every other year.

In addition to Diyarbakır, Van and Batman could set up councils at any moment. Kurds living in the region aim formation of autonomous councils in 15 provinces. This project is based on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, leader Abdullah Öcalan’s democratic autonomy idea that he brought up after 1999.

The BDP plans to include “democratic autonomous local governments” in its constitution proposal.

Apparently, Tuğluk does not speak for nothing.

The DTK and the BDP have prepared Kurds for the “democratic autonomy” project through pilot implementations for months.

We’ll see if things would work out as calculated.