No peace talks under threats: BDP co-chair

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 29.9.2012 – BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş says a negotiation process to solve the Kuridsh woe is impossible while BDP deputies threatened with the lifting of their parliamentary immunity. ‘Such a thing (lifting immunity) will kill any possible negotiation process’ he says.

There will be no negotiation process to solve the Kurdish problem while nine Peace and Democracy (BDP) deputies are the threatened with the lifting of their parliamentary immunity, the BDP’s leader has said, in response to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for the launch of a new peace process.

 “Mr. Prime Minister should stop talking about [lifting] immunity. The cases [of the nine BDP deputies] should not come to the Parliament. Such a thing will kill any possible negotiation process,” Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chairperson of the BDP, told Hürriyet Daily News in a phone conversation on Friday.

Six of BDP deputies are still behind bars, and the government has not lifted a finger for their release, Demirtaş said. “In addition to that, another nine of our deputies will be thrown in front of the judiciary, and we will be cheated by the prime minister to restart the negotiation process. That’s not going to happen.”

The government and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have already declared that they will vote to lift the immunity of the nine BDP deputies, including BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak, if a summary of proceedings is introduced in Parliament. These lawmakers were seen hugging and warmly chatting with PKK militants near Şemdinli in Hakkari province last month. At the time, Erdoğan openly called on the judiciary to take action against these BDP deputies, hinting that his party would act to lift their immunity when the issue comes to Parliament.

The top provincial prosecutor in the eastern province of Van is, meanwhile, reportedly close to finalizing his file about the BDP lawmakers before sending it to the Parliament via the Justice Ministry and the Prime Ministry. Erdoğan has signaled that a new process of dialogue could be launched with the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, and with other senior PKK officials, similar to the previous Oslo talks between Turkish intelligence officials and PKK members. But Erdoğan and other government members have closed the door on the BDP, ruling out its involvement in this process.

“You look [and see that] nine deputies of this party are hugging terrorists, kissing them, cheek to cheek. On the other side, meeting with us… How could it be possible that I would talks to a co-chair who is cheek-to-cheek with terrorists?” Erdoğan said in an interview with NTV late on Sept. 27. The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) has described Erdoğan’s call for negotiations as a tactical move that lacks substance. “Under the current conditions, it is out of the question for our movement to establish a dialogue and to hold meetings with the Turkish state,” the KCK said on Friday.

Calling on the Turkish government to take “more visible steps” toward allowing Öcalan to play a role, and to set conditions for his health, security and free movement, the KCK said “Our movement is in favor of a democratic, peaceful and fair solution but it will closely monitor the practical steps the government takes and then adapt its policies accordingly.”

‘Is Erdoğan trying to gain time?’

Although Demirtaş welcomed Erdoğan’s recent statements about a potential dialogue process, he expressed his concerns about the prime minister’s real goals. “I am not so sure whether he wants to commence a new process or to gain some time to get through his party’s convention. If he wants to launch a process, the government should have a plan outlining the legal and constitutional steps to be taken.” Drawing attention to Erdoğan’s dilemma in dismissing the BDP as a party to the dialogue process, Demirtaş said “Swearing and slamming his Kurdish counterparts are not the language of peace and finding a solution. This shows the flippancy of the government. They should overcome this dilemma.”

Inclusion of Öcalan in the process

Both Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Friday strongly defended the inclusion of Öcalan in a possible resolution process.

“If [MİT] believes that it is necessary to positively use Öcalan’s clout within the organization [the PKK] by holding talks with him, our [intelligence] organization should be able to do so,” Arınç told the Habertürk television channel.

“No one is hoping for help from anyone else,” Bozdağ told reporters in Yozgat, in reference to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli’s blasting the government for hoping for help from Öcalan. “We are solely doing what is necessary to bring an end to terrorism,” Bozdağ said. In the meantime, a BDP official called on the government to lift Öcalan’s solitary confinement at the İmralı Island prison where is serving a life sentence. “Regarding Öcalan, conditions should be provided for him that will contribute to peace efforts. His solitary confinement should soon be lifted” İdris Baluken, deputy chair of the BDP’s parliamentary group, told Anatolia news agency on Sept. 28.