Turkey's opposition insistent on transparency of Kurdish peace process
HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş. AA PhotoTurkey’s opposition parties have increased the volume in their demand for more transparency in the Kurdish peace process amid growing dissatisfaction with the amount of information that has been shared by the government on the matter.
The latest call was voiced on Nov. 21 by the co-leader of the political party directly involved in the process, days after a similar demand by the country’s main opposition party which is actually an opponent of the method in which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been handling the process.
“They may also be from the wise persons’ group but if all of them are selected from the wise persons’ group, then I say that this would be a flaw. Because there are distinguished persons who are not part of the wise persons’ group but who can be included in the resolution monitoring group,” Selahattin Demirtaş, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), told reporters on Nov. 21, when asked whether he had an objection to the idea of having members of a prospective monitoring team from the wise persons’ committee that was formed in the early stages of the resolution process.
“In regards to the method of forming the group, the government should do this through a discussion open to the public, instead of drafting a list on its own, with an approach saying ‘I consider this appropriate’ and with a patronizing approach,” Demirtaş said.
The HDP leader has long maintained that a “third eye” in talks would help share the process with the public.
Recalling that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu blamed him for publicizing matters on which there has not yet been full agreement, Demirtaş said the prime minister should better act transparently on matters subject to such controversy.
“If a monitoring board is to be established, then if needed, Mr. Prime Minister should pay visits to political parties and hear their views,” Demirtaş said, urging Davutoğlu to hold meetings with civil society organizations and professional chambers, too, to solicit their views on the process aimed at ending the three-decade-old conflict between outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Turkey’s security forces.
“Wouldn’t it be more a participatory and more democratic method this way?” he asked.
Demirtaş still eager for CHP involvement as ‘third eye’
Earlier this week, while outlining the conditions under which his party would contribute to the Kurdish peace process, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated that jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was not “a legitimate figure” for engaging in such a process.
When asked about possible government plans to establish a parliamentary delegation to visit Öcalan at the İmralı Island prison in the coming stages of the process, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would not authorize any of his lawmakers to join the group as that would be perceived as “legitimizing the illegitimate.”
Öcalan, serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, has been in dialogue with state officials, the HDP and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), since at least late 2012, and is playing a central role in the process.
“In order to have the CHP’s contribution in this process, it should first be informed about what’s happening. We supported a recent six-article law on this issue, and one of the articles stipulates informing the public about the developments. We are asking the government to implement this article, but we know they cannot do so because they have given promises and commitments that the public would never approve of,” he said, in crystal-clear remarks asking for transparency.
When reminded of remarks by Kılıçdaroğlu, Demirtaş highlighted that Kılıçdaroğlu’s refusal was related to the parliamentary delegation.
“I don’t know his views on the monitoring board. I have the conviction that it would be good if figures who are close to the CHP, names who would be proposed by them, take place in the monitoring board which we call ‘third eye,’ “ Demirtaş said.
Last week, AKP deputy chair Beşir Atalay strongly argued that there was no secret about the process.
“There is nothing which is not known – the goal and the phases of this process. There is nothing that is not known, the public knows as well, these were explained in detail in Parliament. I cannot understand what is not known,” Atalay said.
Media reports recently said Atalay told similar things to lawmakers of the AKP when they complained of not having sufficient information on the process.
Despite the hurly-burly on the stage, there is a clear dynamism within the process after weeks of tension and stalemate.
A date will soon be set for the visit of a parliamentary delegation to Öcalan, according to HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan. Speaking after a meeting with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ late on Nov. 20, Buldan also voiced her expectation that the government would soon take steps to form a “secretariat team” for Öcalan.
According to the HDP’s proposal, five convicts currently imprisoned on İmralı Island along with Öcalan will be replaced by five other convicts, whose names have already been given to the government.
These five names will work as Öcalan’s secretariat throughout the ongoing process, which is aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between PKK militants and Turkey’s security forces.
“He [Bozdağ] said there was no obstacle to other convicts replacing the five convicts here, and stated that a development on this issue will occur soon,” she added, reiterating that those five individuals would work as “secretaries” for Öcalan.
When asked whether a date for the next visit to Öcalan had been given, Buldan said, “We expect it to take place this weekend, but he [Bozdağ] told us that he would inform us.”
The talks have stalled since street violence in early October that claimed dozens of lives in country-wide protests against the government’s perceived inaction over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) assault on the Kurdish-populated town of Kobane in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey.
Amid this stalling, no parliamentary delegation has been able to visit Öcalan since Oct. 22.