Honourable Participants of the Conference,
Initially I would like to welcome you all on behalf of the Kurdish National Congress. I would like to begin by presenting the recent developments, our perspective regarding these developments and also proposals for a solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey and North Kurdistan.
As the participants of this conference you are aware of the history of the Kurdish issue and its present condition in detail. The conflict of the past 26 years has resulted in the death of more than 40.000 people; more than 4.000 villages have been destroyed, millions of people forced to migrate, and more than 17.000 people have been massacred in extra-judicial killings.
This is evidently a war; to call this terrorism is the denial of reality. It is clear that both sides have not been able to prevail over one another and that the constant potential for further conflict makes it crucial for a different approach and non-military methods to be sought. Attempts for this have intensified in the last few years.
The Kurdish side has struggled for a peaceful solution such as this for years and called unilateral ceasefires and taken similar steps on many occasions. The discussions and initiatives for a solution in the last period also carry the hallmark and self sacrifice of the Kurdish side. Despite all the military operations and attempts at sabotage the Kurdish side has been conducting a unilateral ceasefire for the past 14 months.
Also in this period, to be able to put forth tangible suggestions for a solution in the form of a road map, the Kurdish side has taken the suggestions of many circles and parties and presented them to the Kurdish Peoples’ Leader Abdullah Öcalan. Taking these suggestions into consideration Mr. Öcalan prepared a road map and presented it to the Turkish side via the Imrali prison administration on 21st August 2009. While a copy of the road map should have been issued to us and public opinion through Mr. Öcalan’s lawyers, the other side seized the road map and is yet to issue it.
Despite all this, to emphasise their insistence on a peaceful solution and to strengthen the stock of those in favour of peace, the Kurdish Freedom Movement sent, upon an appeal from Mr Öcalan, 8 guerrillas from the mountains and 26 political refugees from the Maxmur Refugee Camp to Turkey as a Peace Group.
The Turkish side is yet to show a serious response to the frank and transparent approach of the Kurdish side. This does not mean that we do not value the discussions and initiatives that have been taken. Yes, the Turkish Government began an initiative named the Kurdish Initiative in July 2009. When the first discussions began we also followed with interest. Then this initiative changed name and became the Democratic Initiative, this was also scrapped soon after and it became the National Unity Project.
It was said that the project would be disclosed in the Turkish Grand National Assembly and a session was conducted on 13th November 2009, however a project was not put forth by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government. It was said in the session that they had short-term, medium-term and long term plans, they spoke a lot, there was a lot of demagoguery, however nothing tangible and concrete has been disclosed so far.
Negative incidents and developments occurred next to this. Despite the unilateral ceasefire of the Kurdish side the military operations of the Turkish Armed Forces continued. There was conflict and deaths. On the other hand the victory of the DTP in the March 29th 2009 local elections was not accepted. While they should have been accepted as interlocutors in a solution, the DTP was targeted.
The AKP, who lost at the ballot tried to get their revenge by conducting police operations against the DTP. The first major operation was conducted on April 14th 2009 and hundreds of people were taken into custody and arrested, including many senior members and executives. These operations intensified in the following months.
The closure case against the DTP was also suddenly brought back on the agenda. On December 11th 2009 the DTP was closed by the Constitutional Court in a unanimous decision. 37 party executives including the General President were banned from politics while General President Ahmet Türk and MP Aysel Tugluk were stripped of their status as parliamentarians. Meanwhile on 24th December 2009, hundreds of people including 17 Mayors were arrested in a new operation. The flood of arrests continues. Thousands of people have been arrested until now.
Until now the leaders of Turkey have approached this problem by denying, suppressing, eliminating and assimilating. The current AKP government is continuing this same policy using more refined methods. Their primary aim is the suppression and elimination of the Kurdish Freedom Movement and the assimilation and Turkification of the Kurdish People. This is still the policy in practice.
It is evident that this issue cannot be solved with this approach. The AKP government cannot dispose of this issue by using window dressing and misleading. They cannot solve this issue without accepting interlocutors and cannot trick anyone. The Kurdish issue cannot be solved with a TV Channel, a few language courses, a few departments in universities, the restoration of a few place names and a repentance law.
The Kurdish issue is in fact a problem of the acceptance of the national democratic rights of a People and the recognition of its democratic political representation. What is fundamental for the democratic peace and reconciliation process to develop and to reach a democratic solution is that a discussion and negotiation is begun with the interlocutors of the process. All pursuits apart from this will be futile and nothing but a waste of time.
As the Kurdish side our stance and approach is clear. Our demands are the minimum of what should already be in a reasonable and democratic country. In this framework I would like to list our proposals for a solution once again:
In view of writing up a new democratic Constitution with the participation of all circles and parties, the Kurdish issue must be taken as the main component of the Democratic Unity of Turkey and its democratisation. Based on this, the new Constitution must become neutral to all ethnicities by grounding itself on constitutional citizenship or alternatively take the Kurdish identity under the protection of the Constitution.
A Truth and Justice Committee must be formed in order to develop and ensure an environment of peace, reconciliation and trust by investigating and uncovering all the incidents contrary to international rules of war and human rights that have lead to great sadness, pain and trauma in Kurdistan and Turkey. For results to be attained all necessary assistance and facilities need to be provided for this Committee by both sides.
Due to the acceptance of the Kurdish identity in the Constitution and necessary changes, Kurdish language and education must be arranged and organised; with the use of Kurdish language as the language of education from primary school to University. Kurdish must be accepted as the second official language with Turkish in places where there are a large number of Kurds.
All the restrictions on the sustenance and development of Kurdish culture must be removed and the rights afforded to all other cultures must be afforded to Kurdish culture. All restrictions on Radio, TV and the Press must be removed and Kurdish broadcasting must be subjected to all the laws and procedures that Turkish TV, Radio and Press is subjected to.
All restrictions on thought, belief, free speech and the right to organise must be lifted and the path of free voluntary politics opened.
Predicated on the Constitution of 1921, the Democratic Local Government Law must be reissued. The local parliaments and democratic political representatives must be considered as part of the general political landscape and their authority augmented based on decentralisation, to provide democratic autonomy.
The village guard system must be abolished by taking economic and social precautions.
All obstacles preventing the return of the people forced to migrate must be removed so that all social wounds can be healed and the debilitated equilibrium of society can return to normal. All the damages done to victims of war must be compensated and they must be supported administratively, legally and economically to rebuild their villages and return to production.
Determination must be shown in mobilising an economic development programme in the Kurdish regions and State supported investments must be made in places with suitable infrastructure. Tax reductions, credit with low rate interest and other such sources must be offered for private enterprise and to encourage investment.
Predicated on the introduction of the social peace and democratic participation act, the Kurdish and Turkish People need to forgive each other. All political prisoners including Mr. Abdullah Öcalan must be released and given the chance to participate in social and political life. Political refugees living abroad must also be included in political life.
With the assurance of a lasting peace, the guerrilla must be positioned, within current law, as either a local public security force or be given a new status to protect its existence within the democratic solution.
As is evident these articles are consistent with European Union Criteria and are the minimal possible requests that should be found in a contemporary democracy. In this context we are calling first and fore mostly on the European Union and all other democratic powers and circles to see and support the Kurdish Peoples’ struggle for a peaceful and democratic solution.
In conclusion we would like to say that the Kurdish people are yearning for peace and are thirsty for freedom. The Kurds have been struggling for years for an honourable peace. As the Kurdish Peoples’ Leader Abdullah Öcalan has indicated; ‘‘in these lands Peace is only possible with the coexistence of the moral and political social powers and the state monopoly powers, but without killing and guns.’’ In this context I would like to greet and wish you good luck in your endeavours in the belief that the discussions at this conference will shed light on perspectives for a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. <http://unitedstatesofkurdistan16.blogspot.com/2010/02/knks-representative-metin-yuksels.html>