BDP Co-Leader Denies Resignation, Criticizes Erdogan Stance on PKK Peace Deal

RUDAW  – 10.10.2013 –  ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Selahattin Demirtas has denied media reports claiming he has resigned as co-leader of Turkey’s Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), saying there will be no internal changes before next year’s presidential election.

He also criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying the Turkish leader had given up on a peace deal with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“No internal changes will take place within the party before the next elections,” Demirtas said on Tuesday. “There are no disputes within our party over the post of the co-chair,” he explained, adding that some changes might take place in the structure of the BDP after next year’s presidential election in Turkey.

The BDP is the biggest legal Kurdish party in Turkey, currently holding 36 seats in the national parliament.

Demirtas’s denial came a day after Turkish media reports that he had resigned his party post over internal disagreements.

“Though I am ill and need to undergo surgery, I saw it necessary to explain things to the public and deny those reports about my resignation,” said Demirtas. “The party’s leadership isn’t about me, thousands of other leaders are on the way,” he said. “After the elections we will certainly make any changes that will strengthen our party.”

Demirtas is considered one of the most outspoken Kurdish leaders in Turkey, often harshly attacking Erdogan’s policies in parliamentary sessions and the media.

His party has also played an essential role in steering Ankara and the PKK towards a peace deal.

However, on Tuesday, Demirtas said that Erdogan appears to have already given up on the peace process.

“Erdogan said that the peace process had reached a conclusion, but there is no such thing going on at the moment,” Demirtas said. “This is hypocrisy and cowardice,” he declared.

Commenting on a so-called “democracy package” announced by Erdogan recently – which contain limited new rights for Turkey’s large Kurdish minority – Demirtas reiterated his party’s assertion that the initiative was insufficient.

“We are not saying this package is bad, but it hasn’t benefited anyone either,” he said.

According to Demirtas, even the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, does not have much faith in the new package.

The main concession to the Kurds in Erdogan’s reform plan is the right to education in the mother tongue, but Demirtas said that Kurds have already taken that matter into their own hands.

“Kurdish children haven’t been saying, ‘I am a Turk’ for the past four years already,” he said, referring to a daily declaration that until a few years ago all children had to make in Turkish state schools. “That issue is already done with and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to take the credit for it now,” Demirtas said.

The prime minister’s promise that Kurdish children can study in their mother tongue came with the condition that it can be done only in private schools. Demirtas said that was neither fair nor practical.

As a solution, he said, “We will open our own schools and print our own Kurdish books.”

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