Attempting to emulate the ‘Kurdish Spring’

Attempting to emulate the ‘Kurdish Spring’

Hüseyin Aygün, the Tunceli deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) who was kidnapped Aug. 12 by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was released late yesterday.The kidnapping of Aygün has naturally shaken the Ankara political scene as the PKK clearly delivered its message to Parliament that even the safety of lawmakers is at stake in this country, especially in the southeastern Anatolian region. Having kidnapped more than 150 people in the last year, including soldiers and local governors, it was the first time that the PKK kidnapped a lawmaker in its nearly three-decade-old struggle. 

The president, the prime minister and the entire Cabinet condemned the kidnapping, as did all the opposition parties, giving a rare show of unity. However, the CHP’s call to convene Parliament was not endorsed by either the Justice and Development Party (AKP) or the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). “If not now, when?” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu asked yesterday during his party’s parliamentary group meeting. The kidnapping of Aygün, for the CHP spokespersons, is a clear attack against the will of the nation and that was the right time to respond to it with all political parties convening in Parliament. 

The ruling party’s spokespersons said they were against giving the impression that the PKK was setting the agenda of Turkey and its Parliament as was imprecisely explained by deputy AKP leader Hüseyin Çelik, who said, “We will not convene the Parliament just because a few Mehmets [soldiers] were martyred.” 

The point the AKP is missing is that the PKK has long been setting the agenda in this country through its bloody terrorist attacks in almost all parts of Turkey and through its activities in northern Iraq and northern Syria. Almost every week top civilian and military officials meet at security summits to discuss the developments while the PKK still stands as the top talking point in every speech by the prime minister. 

The PKK’s statement on the kidnapping underlines that the detention of Aygün will soon be ended after the completion of legal and administrative work, demonstrating an effort to challenge the sovereignty of the Republic of Turkey. To this end, the PKK’s recent massive terrorist campaign exercised in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Şemdinli district should not be analyzed separately from the kidnapping of Aygün. The PKK is seeking to establish a solid ground for its future attempts to launch popular movements against the system in a similar way to those taking place in some Arab countries. That was perhaps the reason why an Iranian high-ranking general predicted that “Turkey will be next.” 

Despite all these negative incidents, one important reality has put our minds at ease: The PKK’s efforts to get the support it seeks from the local people, especially in southeastern Anatolia, are falling short. The gathering of thousands in Tunceli late Aug. 13 to condemn the kidnapping of Aygün was a clear message to this end. However, to make this stance of the people sound, the political apparatus, including the government and all parties, had better think twice about how to address the Kurdish question.