Demirtaş is no Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein
Solving the Kurdish issue is not easy. Wisdom and moderation call for a peaceful solution.
From this general viewpoint, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) says the state should settle with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to bring an end to bloodshed.
This has been tried already.
During the “peace process” that started with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s March 21, 2013 statement that “the armed struggle has ended, we are entering the democratic struggle phase,” the state did not touch the PKK. But during this process, the PKK stocked up on arms and ammunition in cities.
The state processed the “Negotiations Framework Law,” in which Öcalan was officially thanked. The powers of local administrations were expanded. Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave speeches saying, “Developed countries are not afraid of the [decentralized] state system.”
Almost all bans on the usage of the Kurdish language and the expression of identity were lifted. The aim was to move the issue from arms to politics.
While the democratic field was being enlarged in this way, shouldn’t the PKK have switched from armed struggle to politics? On the contrary, the PKK used the peace process to stock up on arms and ammunition and to organize armed structures in the cities.
Months after Öcalan’s call for the PKK to “withdraw across the border,” Cemil Bayık in the name of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) in the Kandil Mountains announced that they had “halted the withdrawal.”
Armed militants in southeastern Anatolia were conducting traffic checks and “people’s courts” were set up building “sovereignty.” The aim was to lay the groundwork for a “revolutionary people’s war” to carry “Rojava” in northern Syria to Turkey.
Should the state just watch as this happened?
The Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party and its leader Gerry Adams are typical examples of how to find a peaceful solution to a long-running war. The role played by Adams in the IRA’s laying down of arms is remembered with appreciation in the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The problem in our situation is that the HDP is not like this.
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş had raised hopes that he could be a Gerry Adams and his votes increased massively. In one of his speeches before the November election, he said: “I don’t favor an autonomous system without constitutional guarantees. I don’t find it correct to declare autonomy at gunpoint.”
Yes, Demirtaş was saying that Kandil had declared autonomy at gunpoint and he thought this was wrong. Well, in what democratic country in the world would the state just stand back and watch an armed declaration of autonomy? I ask this to HDP members with all sincerity.
Should the state simply abandon certain provinces and districts to the armed domain of the PKK and continue with the peace process?
Today, certain districts and neighborhoods in the southeast look like scenes from the Syrian war. The state did not want this; it happened because the PKK caused it. A lot of deaths have occurred; streets and historic monuments have been reduced to rubble. Tens of thousands of people have been internally displaced.
If all HDP deputies and provincial heads endorsed Demirtaş’ pre-election words and said they rejected the declaration of autonomy at gunpoint without a constitutional guarantee, would Kandil dare to shed so much blood?
The issue is not that the HDP wants autonomy. The issue is its submission to Kandil’s tutelage, which the latter is trying to realize with Stalinist methods.
If the HDP was a genuinely democratic party with its own will, it would have lessened the tyranny of Kandil and it would have facilitated a solution.