The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Representative in the U.S., based in Washington, D.C., wrote the following on July 17.
The recent “Democratic Struggle for Freedom” demonstration organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) on July 14 in Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey, was both banned and violently suppressed by Turkish security forces. Demonstrators had gathered to deliver a clear message to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the Kurdish issue can only be solved through peaceful means and the restarting of negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish political movement, Abdullah Ocalan. Turkish security forces confronted the peaceful demonstrators, detaining and injuring many, including Kurdish deputies from the National Assembly.
The Turkish government must put an end to the use of force if it sincerely wishes to solve the Kurdish issue. The ruling government AKP should take immediate steps to end the isolation of Ocalan and free him by initiating sincere peace talks to resolve the Kurdish issue. Negotiations between Ocalan and state officials stalled one year ago in the wake of the national elections in July 2011 in Turkey. Since then, Ocalan has been held under complete isolation without access to his lawyers. Furthermore, all of his lawyers were arrested, which is a complete violation of international agreements regarding the treatment of prisoners. The EU Commission and Council of Europe, as well as others in the international community, have criticized such treatment as a violation of fundamental liberties.
The steady rise in violent incidents in Turkey since July 2011 is a significant reason why peace talks are necessary more than ever before. Hundreds of soldiers and guerillas have lost their lives in violent clashes, and thousands of people have been affected adversely. Furthermore, the Turkish government has arrested over 8,000 Kurdish political activists, including elected deputies and mayors, human rights activists, attorneys, doctors, journalists, academics, students, and unionists. Rather than making most of the changing mindset in Turkish society with regards to the Kurdish issue by advancing a meaningful dialogue with the Kurdish political movement, the AKP government has, since July 2011, implemented a brutal security doctrine.
Renewed military operations in the Kurdish regions have resulted in many deaths and continue to threaten the livelihoods of millions of people. In December 2011, an air attack by the Turkish military resulted in the killing of 34 Kurdish civilians, most of them children, in the district of Uludere (Roboski) in Turkey. This attack was carried out under the auspices of the AKP and was reported in detail by the American mainstream media because of the use of U.S. drone intelligence.
The Turkish government has also taken a step backwards with regards to the Kurdish issue by preventing Kurds from freely expressing their cultural heritage. While the AKP claims it is making progress on Kurdish rights in Turkey, Kurdish people are still unable to express their identity without fear and intimidation. Just this year, the AKP implemented a ban on the Kurdish New Year, or Newroz, celebrations. In March 2012, Kurdish celebrators were met with violence by Turkish security forces and were forced to end their peaceful celebrations.
We, the BDP Representative Office in the U.S., strongly condemn the Turkish government’s use of disproportional force against the Kurdish people and their representatives including the co-presidents of our party, Selahattin Demirtas and Gultan Kisanak. The violent use of force by Turkish security forces on July 14 is yet another example of the authoritarian tendencies of the AKP government. We believe that the Kurdish conflict in Turkey can only be resolved through inclusive democratic practices that include dialogue and negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish political movement. Talks and negotiations between Turkish state authorities and Abdullah Ocalan should be restarted in order for a lasting peace to prevail. Peace talks and negotiations like those between ANC-Mandela and the South Africa government or IRA-Sinn Fein and the UK government should be a source of inspiration for Turkish government. These successful experiences were encouraged by the U.S. administration.
We urge the U.S. president, Congress and Senate, and the American civil society and media not to remain silent with regards to Turkey’s gross human rights record against the Kurdish people, and to encourage a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue that includes sincere peace talks with the arrested Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish political movement.
Unfortunately, the situations with the Kurds does not get too much media attention in the United States. I taught English as a second language to Kurdish refugees from northern Iraq. They informed me very much about the human rights abuse against them during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Which is what brought them to the United States under refugee status. President Obama confronted Turkish officials about admitting to the Armenian Genocide, but they also need to be confronted about the human rights abuse against its Kurdish minority.
Yes Tim: Kurds’ plight does not get enough media attention in the West. We Armenians need help more.
But you are wrong on President Obama: he did not confront Turkish officials about admitting the Armenian Genocide. In fact, after becoming POTUS, he has consistently and deliberately avoided the expression ‘Armenian Genocide’.
In fact, his Secretary of State Clinton even questioned the historical fact of the AG: not one word of disapproval from POTUS. Pres Obama’s Administration is dangerously close to being AG Denialists.
I think the future for the Kurds is as bright as its been for centuries. Kurds now are in control of parts of northern Syria, Kurds control northern Iraq- and I think an independent Kurdistan is not far away. The BDP (who I voted for in the 2011 Turkish elections), is insistent on the Turkish government starting negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan. He is a terrorist, and I don’t see much wiggle room on that statement. He IS a terrorist that started the PKK which to this day uses insurgency and terrorism with the goal of establishing an independent Kurdistan. In the 1980s, when Kurdish oppression was at its peak, the PKKs actions are understandable, though still wrong. But today? It’s pointless and stupid. All it does is give Turkey- who has been slightly improving Kurdish rights to say- “we’re offering an olive branch, they refuse and continue attacking us.”
How many more thousands of Kurds and Turks need to die for them to understand that terrorism will never defeat the Turkish government? Since the 1980s, all the PKK has done is kill mainly innocent 20 year old Turkish soldiers, a vast majority of which didn’t want to be there. In Turkey, the richest kids get out of the military by studying overseas, the middle to upper middle class kids generally get safe military posts in the North, Southwest, and West, and it’s generally the poorest 10% of Turkish citizens who end up in the southeast. The Kurdish southeast also happens to be the poorest region of Turkey, so actually many of the soldiers the PKK kill are Kurds or have Kurdish ancestry.
BDP wants a peaceful resolution- fine I support this- but I need to see some proof, the BDP needs to disassociate themselves from Ocalan. If they don’t they’ll only be feeding the endless cycle of endless, pointless violence. And I definitely won’t vote anymore for a party that associates with terrorists. Kurds are an ancient people who have lived on those lands for millennia- if in 2012 we STILL don’t have a state, well then perhaps it’s time to start looking in the mirror rather then blaming others all the time for our issues.
If the DTP wants to be a righteous voice in the Kurdish community, they need to call out the PKK for it’s terrorism and they need to criticise PKK and Abdullah Ocalan’s past actions. If DTP wants to negotiate, they need to disassociate themselves with the PKK, otherwise they will be treated the same as PKK members.