MESOP NEWS : A VERY CLEVER CHP STRATEGY – Turkey’s CHP declares initiative aimed at opening to Kurds

By Rudaw 5/12/2016 – By Hemin Asaf and Ehsan Yalin – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) has declared an initiative called opening up to Kurds, aimed at winning greater popularity among Kurds and attracting more Kurdish voters in the next general election. The CHP has formed a delegation comprising Kurdish MPs and experts on the Kurdish question and toured Turkey’s Kurdish regions to listen to concerns and demands and collect information. It has also formed a consultation body in its main headquarters in Ankara to develop the idea.

The first article of the initiative deals with “mother tongue,” indicating that the party will be working to enshrine the Kurdish language in the Turkish constitution and removing all previous barriers restricting its use by speakers.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a CHP MP from Istanbul, explained that the party had submitted 27 projects to parliament to deal with the Kurdish question, including a reduction of the electoral threshold — the minimum share of the vote that a political party requires to secure any representation in the legislature — from 10 percent to three percent.It also calls for a quashing of a ban on use of the Kurdish language in politics, financial support to political parties in a fair and just way and establishment of a dialogue commission for communities.Other points included in the initiative are: restoring original town and village names, disclosing the findings of the collective killings that took place in the city of Dersim, officially recognizing the Kurdish feast of Newroz, closing down the old prison in Diyarbakir and turning it into a human rights and democracy museum, allowing freedom of expression, facilitating demonstrations and rallies, initiating and resuming the trial of all outstanding law suits, preventing police from engaging in violence against demonstrators, banning the use of teargas and banning the lashing of demonstrators. The CHP project also mentions “open democratic communities,” allowing only official security forces to operate and preventing the creation of armed militia. For this reason it calls on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters to lay down arms and return to their communities. That is designed as a step for the creation of conditions for national reconciliation.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu recently visited the town of Sivas in northern Kurdistan, explaining the economic aspects of his party’s initiative to open up to Kurds. He has stated that his party will pay attention to the Gap Project and some other big projects, investing more than $365 million in reconstructing northern (Turkish) Kurdistan by 2030.

Turkey has been engaged for over a year in military operations in 25 towns and hundreds of villages in northern Kurdistan, putting an end to a peace process designed to resolve the Kurdish question in the country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Yıldırım have declared in most of their meetings that peace, dialogue and negotiations are futile, making it clear that the country’s military operations will continue until all PKK fighters are eliminated, leading to a big political vacuum in northern Kurdistan. The Kurds have made it clear to the CHP that they can no longer endure war. They have now lost hope in the country’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and do not trust the Justice and Development Party (AK). They take the HDP and AKP to be the cause of the problems the country is suffering from, with their rivalry causing damage and destruction to Kurdish towns. Official figures show that 2,109 civilians were killed in 11 months alone. “The Kurdish cause is not a security question. It is a cause which concerns a nation, and it is the Turkish Parliament which can settle this question,” said Veli Agbaba, Kurdish MP with the CHP for the Malatya region and the party’s deputy leader.

“Resolving this question requires a democratic environment. The AK party is not ready to settle this question this way,” he added. “You cannot talk about reconciliation while holding a gun.”

He believes it is the CHP that can solve the Kurdish problem.

“Nobody wants to hear Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK party, and the HDP is no longer that popular. The HDP could not exploit the opportunities and has now lost the chance to attract voters again. People have faith in the CHP, which should step in offering grand initiatives to this region,” he Agbaba said.