Dear distinguished representatives of the parliamentary groups,
On behalf of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), as the third largest political party in the parliament of Turkey, we would like to draw your attention to our letter for appeal on ongoing violent climate as a result of the ongoing military operations on Turkey’s Kurdish towns as well as the conditions of civil war which influence hundreds of thousands of civilian Kurds.
On March 21st, 2013, following the declaration of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, that “Guns should go silent, ideas and politics should talk,” a process of peace and dialogue was begun. Following that, a committee representing the Turkish state and a committee representing the Kurdish side conducted a series of meetings with Mr. Öcalan. As a major first step to finding a democratic solution to the Kurdish question, both sides agreed on a list of principles declared on February.
28th, 2015, known as the “Dolmabahçe Accords.” According to an agreement reached following this declaration, Mr. Öcalan’s message expressing his desire for a permanent peace would be read publicly during Newroz (Traditional New Year) celebrations in Amed (Diyarbekir) on March 21st, 2015. Additionally, one week later, a Monitoring Committee whose members were determined in İmralı prison would join the meeting as a third party. During the first meeting that was to be held in the presence of the Monitoring Committee, the parties would accept the official commencement of the dialogue, and, following the agreed upon minimal principles, Mr. Öcalan would ask the PKK to gather a congress to decide on engaging in a democratic political struggle instead of an armed struggle against the Republic of Turkey. In fact, the Executive Council of the KCK, the umbrella organization of the Kurdish parties including the PKK, had also publicly declared that if they were to receive a call from Mr. Öcalan, they were ready to convene. Unfortunately, this historical opportunity was wasted as a result of President Erdoğan’s plans for a presidential system which would lay the foundations for a one man dictatorship, and as a reaction to prevent the political gains of the Kurds outside of Turkey, particularly those in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), following the recent developments in the Middle East.
However, owing to the fact that the Monitoring Committee was not allowed to participate in the negotiations scheduled to begin in the last week of March, and Erdoğan’s statement that “there is no table, no agreement, no sides, no monitoring committee, and no Kurdish problem,” the process was brought to a reckless end. The attacks targeting our party, the HDP, and its supporters in the lead-up to the June 7th, 2015 elections increased during the post-election period on account of our party’s electoral success and resultant strong parliamentary presence. Consequently, the AKP was unable to secure enough seats in parliament to form a single party government. Following the June 7th elections, Kurdish people and members of the democratic forces have been arrested by the hundreds, faced lynching campaigns, and state violence; the level of violence and submission policies reached new heights across the country as a result of coordinated attacks by the AKP-ISIS alliance that killed a total of 138 people in Diyarbekir, Pirsûs (Suruç), and Ankara.
As of now, as a result of the war that started following a period in which peace seemed so close for Turkey, a total of 342 civilians, nearly 400 PKK guerrillas, soldiers and police officers lost their lives. As a consequence of the declaration of “temporary special military zones” in 145 regions in 16 different towns across the Kurdish majority regions, the entire Kurdish region of the country has been turned into a war zone. Moreover, the fact that the state has declared curfews 54 times in 18 Kurdish towns and districts, sometimes for periods as long as two weeks, is reminiscent of military siege. The curfews that have no legitimacy based on constitutional law or any other legal basis violate fundamental rights and freedoms, as defined in the constitution, including freedom of movement, right to education, right to health, and the right to life. The curfews are affecting 1.5 million people directly, and so far 250 people have been forced to migrate. Under these conditions, where economic social and cultural life is halted, electricity and water services are interrupted, pharmacies and bakeries are closed, violence is taking the lives of children, women and the elderly one by one while the whole world watches. Places accepted as humanity’s common heritage of faith and culture are being ruined. In addition to Diyarbekir’s City Walls, which are on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list, the historical Kurşunlu mosque, Alevi Cemevis, and churches are being destroyed. Parliamentarians and politicians seeking to visit areas under curfew have been subjected to deadly interference by security forces.
This emerging picture of Turkey carries social and political risks of radicalism and violence that will adversely affect the Middle East and Europe. Unfortunately, today we are closer to a catastrophic scenario than ever before. It is inevitable that this situation will have severe consequences on deeply instable Middle East which is already in a circle of violence, and also for Europe and beyond.
There is an urgent need to stop military and political operations immediately and return to the negotiation table directly with Mr. Öcalan, monitored by a third party, in order to resolve the Kurdish question peacefully. We must emphasize that in order to achieve long-term stability in Turkey and the surrounding region, it is essential that international political actors and the international community develop a democratic and pro-peace approach towards developments in Turkey. We call upon all democratic national and international platforms to openly criticize and initiate necessary proceedings against the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Turkey, and to support the struggle for peace and freedom for the peoples of Turkey.
İdris Baluken & Çağlar DemirelDeputy Co-Chairs of the HDP Parliamentary Group
January 5, 2016