Turkish government mulls Kurdish plan amid PKK calls

Turkish government mulls Kurdish plan amid PKK calls

Turkish government mulls Kurdish plan amid PKK calls

With nationwide protests beginning to heat up once more, the country’s youth could soon be joined by Kurdish groups following a call from the KCK. AA photo

Turkish officials held an emergency meeting yesterday to finalize a long-expected democracy package that would meet some of the demands of Kurdish political groups amid a new promise by outlawed Kurdish militants to support “democratic protests” to force the government to take action on the issue.

“We will continue our deliberations on the content of the democracy package on Friday. It’s a very comprehensive package and aims to meet the needs of different segments of our society. We are hoping to conclude our assessments on Friday,” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters after the three-hour long meeting. 

The meeting was held under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and with the participation of senior government and Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials. The plan of the government is to let the package be publicized by Erdoğan at an appropriate time, Atalay said. “It’s a very strong package. And we think it should be explained by the prime minister himself.” 

If the AKP can finalize the package, Erdoğan could reveal it at a press conference next week, according to sources. 

The meeting followed a statement from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that it had ceased its withdrawal from Turkish soil into northern Iraq because the government had failed to fulfill its promises about the resolution process. 

The PKK and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have listed their expectations from the government in return for a cease-fire and withdrawal from Turkey, but the delay in the process has caused mistrust and tension between the two parties. The government accused the PKK of not completing the withdrawal within the given time, accusing the group of only pulling out 20 percent of its armed forces. 

The unveiling of the democracy package is expected to diffuse the tension although its heretofore leaked content does not promise Kurdish parties the right to education in people’s mother tongue or a reduction of the election threshold from the current 10 to 3 percent. Kurds also wanted a complete overhaul of the Anti-Terror Law and legal arrangements for the release of political prisoners. 

The democracy package is expected to permit services in mother tongues in public offices such as municipalities and the tax office; lift the obligation to name settlements in Turkish; restrict governors’ rights to delay meetings and gatherings and prevent the sentencing of those who have not been at the management level in terror organizations and those who have not committed crimes that violate codes on “being a member of terror organization” via amendments to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and the anti-terror law. 

The changes are also expected to extend financial aid from the Treasury to political parties who are under the threshold so that the BDP can also enjoy funds, introduce a co-chairmanship system to parties, implement a law to protect personal data and pass a regulation to prevent hate speech.
The government’s meeting came as the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the urban wing of PKK, said in a statement yesterday that they would force the AKP to take steps in the democratization process by supporting the ongoing Gezi protests across the country.

The KCK said in a statement that it would support the “democratic forces’ struggle in Turkey” and “side with the democracy and freedom” struggle against the “attack on the opposition in Turkey.”

“The people’s democratic struggle in Turkey and the Kurdish people’s struggle for democracy and freedom will be united,” said the statement, vowing to continue the struggle until the government takes “serious steps at democratization and solves the Kurdish problem.”

The statement referred to police intervention against the protests, as well as the Sept. 10 death of a 22-year-old protester in Hatay, Ahmet Atakan, while accusing the government of creating “a police state.”

The KCK also called on people to boycott schools for the first week of the education year, which will start on Sept. 16, in order to draw attention to their demand to “open institutions and schools in Kurdish language.” 

“Families should not send their children to schools for a week. All families and children should hold protests in front of the provincial directorates of national education offices in each province with slogans of ‘we want education in mother tongues,’” said the statement. It also said that all the people in the region “regardless of their political views” should support these protests.