BIANET 5.9.2011. In the “Democratic Solution Protocol” presented at their annual General Convention, the pro-Kurdish BDP announced a road map to regional autonomy and stated a number of main issues to be included in the new constitution. The 2nd Regular General Convention of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was held in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Sunday (4 September). BDP deputy for Siirt (south-eastern Anatolia) Gültan Kışanak presented the party’s “Protocol for a Democratic Solution”. As reported by the Fırat News Agency (ANF), the BDP demanded the new constitution take account of the reality of various ethnic identities in Turkey. The party requested to pass to a decentralized administration giving more weight to local administrations based on the law of autonomy as part of the definition of a democratic nation.

Articles of the Protocol

Kışanak emphasized that his party was “ready to assume responsibility and to start negotiations for democratization”. He announced the eight articles of the protocol as follows:

1. “All identities, cultures, languages and believes existing in Turkey should be constitutionally guaranteed and be clearly included in the constitution. Ethnic identities should not be debated as inferior and superior identities. Within this framework, a constitutional citizenship is the basis without emphasizing any ethnic identity as a higher identity.

2. The constitution should guarantee the free use of a person’s mother language which should be allowed to be used in all areas of public life without reserve. The right to education in the mother language should be recognized as a constitutional right.

3. The protection of cultures, their development and passing on to future generations has to be accounted for as a public responsibility. Civil efforts carried out in this regard should be taken under constitutional guarantee.

4. The state should be downsized and freedoms in civil areas should be broadened in order to pass to a decentralized management system. Such a system should recognize the full implementation of the will of the people by giving an end to all sorts of tutelage. In this context, the power of regional, provincial and municipality councils should be increased compared to the central administration together with the autonomy to be recognized on a regional level. All sorts of civil democratic public assemblies should be protected by the constitution.

5. The constitution should guarantee the right of workers to association and to fight for their interests. This includes the right to strike as well as preventing state and government interventions against associations that protect social and labour rights of workers. The agreements of the International Labour Office (ILO) should be guaranteed by the constitution without any reserves.

6. All kinds of obstacles before women’s participation in social, political, economic and cultural life should be lifted. Special measures must be taken until real and actual equality will have been achieved. Violence and discrimination against women should be recognized as crimes against humanity. Women rights should be defined in a special section of the constitution.

7. Freedom of expression, the right to association and press freedom should be regulated by the constitution based on the agreements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations (UN).

8. Measures to protect the nature and prevent the destruction of the ecological balance must be guaranteed on a constitutional level”. Recommendations to achieve the aims defined in the protocol include demands such as lifting the ten-percent election threshold; the release of Kurdish politicians and deputies arrested on the grounds of political motives; amendments of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) and the Criminal Procedure Law (CMK) to pave the way to democratic politics; the abrogation of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK); the co-ordination of the Commission for a Democratic Constitution with NGOs, social partners and opinion leaders; establishing a fact and justice commission backed by both the Parliament and the government and involving MPs and members of NGOs; talks with Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and alleviating his conditions of detention . Gülten Kışanak and Selahattin Demirtaş were elected Co-Chairs of the BDP at the party convention.