05/10/2012 By MASHALLAH DAKAK – RUDAW – In this interview with Rudaw, Gültan Kışanak, the co-leader of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), responds to a statement from Bülent Arınç, the vice president of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which claimed that negotiations between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish government are ongoing.
Kışanak denies that claim and says there are no negotiations. She believes the Turkish government is trying to calm the current situation by spreading propaganda. However, Kışanak believes Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani can pave the way for establishing negotiations.
Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would not meet with those who kiss the cheeks of guerrillas, but would meet with Selahattin Demirtaş, the BDP co-leader, if Demirtas asked him.
Rudaw: Last year, many military operations were carried out and many PKK guerrillas lost their lives, but since the summer the PKK has continued its attacks. How long will this violence continue?
Gültan Kışanak: After those events resumed, fear spread in the public. From the beginning, I mean from the beginning of the breaking of the truce, we said that this situation was going to be tough. In order to make the situation digestible, meetings between both parties are needed.
“The minister told us that the government believed militaristic policies would have good results,”
We offered a 12-point list of suggestions to the government. We revealed the suggestions at our convention last September. However, the government did not listen to our suggestions. According to the information published on the Internet, Yalçın Doğan, a famous consultant of the prime minister’s, said a year ago: “The PKK will be able to resist until March.” This stupidity is ongoing.
In the winter, the state carried out attacks and many guerrillas lost their lives. They used chemical weapons. The guerrillas in the caves were mass murdered. In Bitlis, 15 female guerrillas in a cave were murdered; they were not even in a state of war.
Rudaw: Did you try to mediate and stop the attacks?
Gültan Kışanak: In order to prevent further violence and the deepening of the issues, Demirtaş and I met with a Turkish minister. We told the minister that they had been saying “attack them, break them and eliminate them,” but the other side was also preparing. This could be sensed in the PKK’s formal statements. But the minister told us that the government believed militaristic policies would have good results, and that therefore they would continue with the attacks. The government is accountable for the violence and death of people as a result.
Rudaw: Were the 12 points you mentioned meant to be implemented in a short period of time?
Gültan Kışanak: We only suggested things that would have helped both parties come closer together. We suggested changes to some of the provisions of the anti-terror law. We suggested that in the anti-terror law, the crime of “praising crime and criminals” should be removed. We also asked that the expression of “even though the individual is not a member of the organization but has committed crime in the name of the organization” should be removed from the anti-terror law articles.
We also asked for some changes in the law of political parties. We wanted to pave a way for a democratic policy, through the changes we asked for. If these laws were changed then many of those who are arrested in the KCK (Union of Communities in Kurdistan) would have been freed.
“The AKP cabinet wanted to increase its authority in the state. That is why discussions over a democratic solution started.”
Rudaw: The current government had talked about democratization. Why did it change direction later on?
Gültan Kışanak: The government has not thought about solving the problem. In order to not give Kurdish rights, they were thinking of a new way. The AKP cabinet wanted to increase its authority in the state. That is why discussions over a democratic solution started. Since 2009, the policy of self-imposing has become the official policy of the state. And since they did not have any solution for the Kurdish problem, that was the result.
Rudaw: Has the U.S. or the EU expressed any disagreement with this policy? How has Turkey managed to preserve their support?
Gültan Kışanak: The AKP government was telling not only the Kurds, but the U.S. and EU shiny words. The government even enlarged the word (democracy) for the local liberal democrats in Turkey. The government was successful with its shiny words about democracy and peace.
However, since the day the AKP took office, Turkey has lost its reliability among those states. In the EU, reports have been written about these Turkish developments. But for Erdogan to reach Çankaya Villa (Turkish presidency palace), he has to talk about a more nationalist Turkey.
As Erdogan accumulates more power, he becomes less democratic. And we do not believe that after his arrival at Çankaya he would be more democratic. There are certain steps that, once taken, are difficult to go back on.
He started his election campaign by radical nationalist propaganda. He made statements in the elections that said “if we were in power when Ocalan (jailed PKK leader) was tried, we would have issued the death penalty,” and then after elections stopped the peace negotiations. Erdogan has become a captive of the nationalist approach he took in the elections campaign. Escaping from it will not be easy.
Rudaw: Recently, the meetings in Oslo have been a main topic in Turkey. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) addressed the topic and has made it a daily topic. From the government, some officials have made statements about it. Have there been more meetings between the PKK and Turkey?
Gültan Kışanak: The CHP utilizes this topic as a means for its internal politics. Ninety percent of that party’s statements are to entangle the AKP in a difficult situation. The remaining 10 percent are related to the fact that this political party has renovated itself. In general, the CHP does not try to solve the problem. It does not have a clear stance on the issues.
“The Kurds in Syria need good support. The Kurds from all four parts of Kurdistan have to support the Kurds in Syria,”Bashir Atalay, Bülent Arınç and Sadullah Ergin make statements one after another. These ministers know about the Oslo meetings. One of them said “there still might be meetings.” This sentence does not make any sense. The MIT (Turkish intelligence) is an organization that is tied to the prime minister. If there are meetings, the prime minister must know about them. There are either meetings or there are not meetings!
Rudaw: So there are no meetings?
Gültan Kışanak: The statements show that there are no meetings. From now on, if there are any meetings, the public should be informed about them. I do not mean informed of all the details, but if there are any developments, the public needs to know.
Rudaw: Selahattin Demirtaş has several times said “Erdogan will establish Kurdistan.” What does he mean by that?
Gültan Kışanak: Until now, the Kurdish problem was a problem of lack of rights. They would not accept us as a nation. But recently, they have terrorized the Kurds and upset them. Pressures have doubled. Solving the Kurdish issue is moving towards failure day after day. The sensitivities that exist over Kurdish rights have faded recently. But they are about to re-emerge. If the situation gets more difficult now, sensitivities will increase. In such a situation, one cannot politically defend co-existence.
Rudaw: What can Barzani and Talabani do in order to calm the situation?
Gültan Kışanak: Talabani is the president of Iraq and Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Region. They have established good relations with Turkey. Turkey constantly tries to use this relationship against Kurdish interests. We believe Barzani and Talabani are trying to utilize this relation in favor of Kurdish interests. The Turkish government established itself by promising “zero problems with neighbors.” But it has only zeroed its problems with Barzani and Talabani.
Rudaw: What do you think of the situation in the Western (Syrian) Kurdistan? Do you have connections with the Kurds there?
Gültan Kışanak: The Kurds in Syria need good support. The Kurds from all four parts of Kurdistan have to support the Kurds in Syria. If Assad’s regime regains power, the situation will be very tough for the Kurds. Also, if the Syrian opposition manages to topple Assad, they may not even recognize the Kurds. Even now, those that are outside the country say they do not accept Kurdish rights. That is why Kurds refused to join the Syrian National Council.
We are in constant contact with Western Kurdistan. We wanted to go as a delegation to visit them, but there are problems on the border. There are security problems in the area.