After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally revealed the long-awaited package of democratic reforms aimed at advancing peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), PKK leaders at their base in the Qandil Mountains said they consider the package inadequate.
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Erdogan has proposed in the reform package the removal of the 10% electoral threshold, which currently prevents Kurdish political parties from entering parliament. Also according to the package, election campaigning is also allowed in non-Turkish languages including Kurdish. The package also suggests teaching in non-Turkish languages would be allowed in private schools, towns will be able to take back their native names, a chauvinist oath recited by the students in the schools will be removed and a commission established to combat hate crimes.
Member of Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the urban wing of the PKK, Diyar Qamishlo, told the Pan-Arab daily Sharq al-Awqsat, “The package that has been revealed by Erdogan is a joke. And it shows that the mentality of those who are running the country is based on their denial of twenty million Kurds.”
Qamishlo also said that the package gives no guarantees that the Turkey has changed its policies toward Kurds: “The reform package does nothing to reverse the Turkish state’s policy of denial toward the Kurds. Those policies of denying Kurdish existence were the reason of the Kurdish insurgency against Turkey, which led to the death of tens of thousands of people on both sides.”
“Erdogan mentions giving back the original Kurdish names to the villages and cities, this is very strange, especially when Prime Minister calling it an achievement for the Kurdish nation, but it is not, because Kurdish nation doesn’t use the imposed names by Turkish state anyways for example Kurds still call it Amed not Diyarbakir or Dersim not Tunceli, all the Turkish decisions to impose Turkish names failed.”
Qamishlo says on studying Kurdish in private schools, “The packages limits studying Kurdish only in private schools that you must pay money to learn Kurdish, that means if Kurds want to learn Kurdish, they should pay. Before if you talked in Kurdish in official institutions you would have been fined and now you should pay to learn Kurdish – so in both ways you should pay”.
The PKK leader also said, “We did not initiate the peace process for that, but our goal was to take back the rights of our nation and to get out prisoners released and to gain the minimum rights and political freedom for Kurdish nation.”[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]
Regarding the truce that lasts until the end of this year, Qamishlo said, “When we entered the peace process based on the initiation of our leader Abdullah Ocalan, we we not weak. We were strong and we had a fierce presence in the battlefield. We withdrew based on the call of our leader to give the Turkish state a chance to solve the Kurdish issue. But it has been eight months and the Turkish government has only taken minor steps that don’t meet Kurdish ambitions, and our suspicions grow everyday that the Turkish government is not serious about solving the Kurdish question.”
He also said, “If the Turkish government does not respond to our demands, we will make a final decision at the end of this month; we will cancel the truce and we will send our fighters back to Turkish territories and start an all out war. The whole world should know that we will continue our struggle to achieve our goals, and we have the right of self-defense.”
Durak Kalkan, one of the four main leaders of the PKK, who is considered a hard-liner, told Firat News Agency, “The peace process between the PKK and Turkish government has reached deadlock. If the Turkish government wants to waste time and deceive people, then there would be no reason to cease our armed struggle.”
“The Kurdish question is key to solving all the problems of the country. If the Turkish government does not commit to peace, then we will end the truce and resume our armed struggle within Turkish territories.”[/wpcol_1half_end]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abdulla Hawez is a journalist and blogger based in the Iraqi Kurdistan. He has worked with and written for many local and international media outlets including Al-Jazeera and Turkey’s Today’s Zaman.