Who Fails; Kurds or Democracy?

Who Fails; Kurds or Democracy?

Finally, the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, decided to end its boycott and went to the Grand National Assembly. Everybody seems to be happy, so far. In fact, it is not a matter of being optimistic or not to have “great expectations” from this “happy end” since Kurdish question is too complicated to be solved only by BDP and “parliamentary politics”.

 BDP is the democratically elected political representative of Kurdish political movement, but only one component of the Kurdish body politic. Those Kurds, who vote for BDP, are overwhelmingly the same people who support “armed resistance” as it is called by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and regard Abdullah Öcalan as their leader. It is very difficult for any democracy to deal with armed rebels, yet Turkey faces such a challenge and should find a way for a peaceful settlement. The present situation is not sustainable and to call rebels to end their “struggle” without any conditions is no solution. The only way is to engage in realistic negotiations with Öcalan and PKK, as well as to consider BDP as a democratic partner in the Parliament.

 PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained his Kurdish policy as a kind of “double dealing”; “war on terror” and democratic politics at the same time. This policy is doomed to fail since now it is impossible to differentiate PKK, the Kurdish political movement and its social base. So called “war on terror” will most likely radicalize many Kurds rather than channeling Kurdish politics into the legal democratic framework. Besides, present legal democratic framework is problematic enough. Under the circumstances, it is not possible to discuss the Kurdish question with great freedom let alone using other democratic means. To participate in political demonstrations is a guarantee for persecution of all sorts.

 Under the circumstances, one is free to condemn PKK, but forbidden to express or even mention their views and demands. One is free to condemn PKK violence, but risks being critical of the governmental policy of suppression of Kurds by military means. “Treason” is a great weapon to be used against any criticism of Turkish official politics in general. One may easily be accused of being “internal enemy” and sometimes as “internal enemies collaborating with external enemies”. Nowadays, Turkish citizens are called upon with the “duty of fighting with terrorism and helping government by all means. The writers are invited to be “responsible” in this struggle with “terror”.

 Let alone considering sensible negotiation for peaceful solution of Kurdish question, Turkish democracy is under the danger of moving in the direction of authoritarian politics within the framework of “war on terror”. On top of everything, Turkish foreign policy is getting more and more confrontational and society is alarmed. Despite the fact that the first casualty of war on many fronts is free speech and democracy in general, the Kurdish question is the first among others, to be solved by enforcing democratic politics rather than hindering free speech and democratic politics. This is the great paradox of Turkish politics.

 It is totally meaningless to expect BDP to play a serious role to solve the problem under the circumstances. Yet, it is rather “fashionable” to call BDP to play its role and to free itself from “PKK pressure” to do so. Nevertheless, BDP suffer more from governmental pressure than anything else. It is impossible to observe the extent of PKK pressure, but it is enough to consider political arrests of BDP members to observe governmental or official pressures. It is more realistic to make calls to government to move in more democratic direction than putting the all blame on Kurds.