9th INTERNATIONAL EUTCC CONFERENCE, 5-6 December 2012
Conference paper: Mr Zubeyir Aydar, Member of the Executive Board of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)
Dear friends, Dear participants,
Since the negotiation process for Turkey’s membership of the European Union has started, EUTCC has been regularly performing the series of international conferences on “EU, Turkey and Kurds”. It is crucial from the perspective of a civilian where they could follow-up the relations between the EU and Turkey and this is an important initiative that should be appreciated. The main theme of the 9th conference being peace negotiations in Kurdish question would definitely contribute to the resolution of the problem. I would like to thank to the EUTCC and to all others for their valuable work and wish them success.
In accordance with the main theme of the conference and the panel title I will try to express Kurd’s point of view on dialogue, negotiations, road map, political solution and peace. I will try to answer; what Kurds understand of these concepts, what is their approach, do they have any work on them and how they see the current situation.
I believe you all have enough knowledge on what Kurdish question is. Therefore, without going in to the past history I will evaluate the last 34 years and will try to put forward the solution. Furthermore, I will remain in the context of the last Kurdish revolt which has been developing under the leadership of the PKK. Discussions on the solution to the Kurdish question began in the early 1990’s with the efforts of the then President Mr Turgut Ozal. The Kurdish side’s response has always been positive hence; in 17th March 1993 PKK has declared a unilateral ceasefire accordingly to search for the solutions to pave the way. But after the suspicious death of President Mr Ozal, the respond received from the other party was not positive, thus this initiative was failed and the cease-fire had broken down.
In 1995 and 1998 similar initiatives took place and again both in times Kurdish side has responded positively by declaring a unilateral ceasefire. However, the states’ negative approach has failed the attempts over again as previous.
At the beginning of 1999, Mr Abdullah Ocalan was captured in Kenya as a result of an international conspiracy and handed over to Turkey unlawfully with piratical approach. Despite that Kurds continued to search for solutions. After discussions with Mr Ocalan in the prison another cease-fire declared in July 1999. Unlike other cease-fires, guerrilla forces had withdrawn from beyond Turkey’s borders in order to least provocations. This situation had continued until 2004. Unfortunately, the Turkish State and its actors had taken no further steps in to the solution during this time again. When the conflict was suspended due to cease-fire and the government said it was done and the problem was solved. On the other hand Kurds shared many declarations with the public on how to solve the Kurdish question. Road maps were declared and shared with the public. Kurds demands were extremely reasonable and acceptable. But the reasonable requests of the Kurds were ignored; their good intentioned calls were not heard but their behaviour rather seen as weakness.
Therefore, in June 2004 conflict restarted. The government ignored it first but from mid 2005 onwards began to discuss the solutions again. In 2006 search for new solutions and initiatives became operational. The Kurds have responded again to the both times where discussions began in 2005 and to the initiatives took place in 2006 so, accordingly declared cease-fires. To this day, including the first in 1993, Kurds have declared 8 cease-fires in total. All the cease-fires have been broken down due to the Turkish military’s practice of either abiding by the cease-fires very little or not at all and the Turkish State’s insistence in attitude of the deadlock.
The consultation process, and the developing dialogue of 2006 and its aftermath, should be separately assessed. At the beginning this process was started indirectly by agencies who were delivering the messages. From the end of 2007, it developed into face-to-face consultations – known publically as the Oslo Consultation – this consisted of two sides one of whom was Mr Ocalan, who is in Imrali Prison, and the other being representatives of political organisations. These talks were carried out in parallel communication so as to support each other. The form of communication between the two sides was executed by exchange of written documents. Throughout this time, despite interruption and blocking, the process continued until July 2011. This process was prevented from reaching agreement, because the government counterparty did not keep their pledges/promises and did not try to resolve problems, instead postponing the arranged appointments.
Everyone can rightly ask those kinds of questions: “What has been discussed during this period, who has been talking, and why has there not been any significant progress?” The Kurdish side who had the aim of a political solution approached the matter cordially and did their duty. In the first place, the most important step for the Kurds was a ceasefire. Apart from failed talks, it was only the Kurds from their side who declared a ceasefire, and complied with it – however the Turkish military also informally and partly complied with the ceasefire process. The Kurds had no other agenda than resolving the political predicament with peace and dialogue and all demands/claims were addressed. Those claims were very reasonable and logical that wouldn’t even need to be discussed under normal conditions of democracy. The road map for the resolution and protocols including practical stages were prepared and offered to their counterparts. The road map and claims were made public.
As regards the Turkish demands, with the purpose of being sincere on the peace deal and showing a non-violent way of the solution (and also empowering the Turkish government in the peace process and dialogue) the Kurdish side sent back to Turkey a group of people consisting of guerrillas and people from the Maxmur Refugee Camp with a letter including peaceful intentions. Although the counterparty promised not to arrest or try them, those people with the peace message were arrested and sentenced to heavy sentences ending up in prison.
Although the Turkish counterpart repeatedly made promises in this process, they never sat around the table with the peace group. They usually said “ we will discuss these points with our government and the next meeting we will bring their response” but they never came back with a satisfactory answer. When the main subjects were discussed they claimed that they were not fully authorized. The Kurdish side proposed that they could bring a fully authorized committee in order to finalise the consultation, but they have not agreed on this subject at all.
While the consultations were getting more frequent, the government was proposing a solution of the Kurdish predicament, the declaration of a ceasefire by the Kurds, which meant everyone, was full of hope of a positive outcome. On 14 April 2009 a government KCK operation towards Kurdish politicians targeted even elected ones – we called this “a political massacre”- and started a rush to arrest many. When this matter was brought to attention at the discussions their response was “this is not our government’s attitude, it is just some interfering prosecutors who carried out the operation and the arrested people will be at liberty shortly”. Despite their promise, the arrests continued widely and are still continuing. Today, the number of arrested people is continuing to increase and have reached tens of thousands.
At the beginning of 2011, the Turkish counterparty renewed the anti-Kurdish alliance with Iran, Iraq and Syrian and according to their plan, based on the “Srilanka-Tamil” model, those countries were to attack from all sides together and aim to destroy the Kurdish Freedom Movement. And in July 2011 this plan was put into action.
In face of all these that have happened the perception that occurred in the Kurdish side is that the Turkish side is in the need of ceasefire to perform the elections in a comfortable environment, is in the process of earning time through negotiation delays and is working to do the final hit when they find the opportunity to do so. The practice is also in a quality that corrects this perception.
Today the negotiations have stopped. There have been heavy battles since July 2011. The Tamil-Sri-Lanka model that the AKP government has clung to did not work in Kurdistan. Once again there are debates on the solution in Turkey. The answer to the question of “if there is a demand for new debates how will the Kurdish side look at it will be positive. However the particular we will look for is seriousness and sincerity and we have had enough of delays.
In Turkey especially those close to government are in such debates that “PKK is something else to the Kurdish quest” Imrali is different Qendil is different, Europe is different”, “the organisation is the vendor of other powers”. These are arguments developed in the psychological war centres. These are done to mud up the arguments and to deepen the deadlock in the Kurdish question. Let’s say this very clearly without taking the movement that is fronted by the PKK into account it is impossible to find a solution to the Kurdish question. There are no different views or heads in the organisation, the organisation is a whole and its leader is Mr Abdullah Ocalan. The agenda of the organisation is the Kurdish question and Kurdistan. It is the welfare and the freedom of the Kurdish people. There are no different agendas apart from this; it especially has no act or aim that will serve the foreign powers.
Since we have opened the word from foreign powers we need to touch especially to the attitude of European and western powers. The attitude of the west to date has not been to serve the cause of solution on the contrary its attitude is to support those that are against the solution. All those with a conscience will know that the freedom struggle of the Kurdish people is a just and a legitimate freedom movement. Accusing this struggle with terrorism is an injustice, lawlessness, cruelty and being on the side of cruelty. The west is accusing the Kurdistan freedom struggle with terrorism and is trending against the Kurdish politicians and institutions and providing arms support to Turkey. It is obvious that this attitude is deepening the deadlock. It is not possible to serve the solution without removing the terror list and the actions that are carried out on that base.
Dear participants; out attitude as the Kurdish side is open and clear. Our demands are those of a minimum that should happen in a democratic country. The solution suggestions that I will present now even if they are not the same word by word are those that we have provided to the other side and the public on many different occasions. In this frame I would like to once again present our suggestions for solution.
1) Representatives of all people with a different background should participate during the preparation of the new constitution in order it to be democratic. On this basis, the new constitution either be based on constitutional citizenship and be neutral to all ethnic identities or Kurdish identity should be recognised and take place in the constitution.
2) With recognition of the Kurdish identity, Kurdish language to be regulated in education and to be used from primary school to universities. Kurdish language to be recognised as a second official language in the heavily Kurdish-populated areas.
3) Removal of all obstacles to survival and development of Kurdish culture and all the rights afforded to other cultures to be recognised for the Kurdish culture. There must be no restrictions on TV, radio or on press.
4) Freedom of thought, belief, freedom of expression and association by removing prohibitions or restrictions on the removal of all barriers to free politics.
5) Annunciation of Democratic Local Government Act. Democratic local authorities, including local councils, particularly by increasing the political wills, on-site management approach to ensure a democratic autonomy.
6) Abolition of the village guard system based on economic and social measures.
7) Social wounds must be wrapped and healed in order to restore crippled social balances to a healthy state again by removing all obstacles that prevent those who were forced to leave their villages and encourage their return. Damages of war victims must be met. In addition, administrative, legal and financial support must be made available to the villagers so that they can rebuild their villages.
8) Commitment to launch a campaign in the Kurdish areas of economic development and government-backed investments must be considered to be implemented. Private sector investment, mainly in cheap credit for the tax cuts and incentives should be provided from other sources.
9) Social peace and democratic participation of Kurdish and Turkish communities on the basis of the enactment of law should pardon one another mutually. Everyone, including all political prisoners, and Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, should be free to join the social and political life. Political refugees living abroad should also be included in the democratic political life.
10) Together with the provision of a permanent solution within the framework of existing laws guerrillas or the local police force to protect the existence of a new solution in the presence of a democratic solution status.
Practical Operations are:
1) The two sides, which will include representatives of political parties and non-governmental organizations and the establishment of a Constitutional Council which will discuss the constitutional and legal issues.
2) Representatives of the two sides and the relevant powers, and of the establishment of a Peace Council that will deal with addressing issues regarding security and armed forces.
3) In order to ensure confidence in the democratic peace and reconciliation process a Research and Justice Commission must be established to investigate and reveal truths about any human right violations that have been committed.
4) Through these councils and commissions direct communication with Mr. Abdullah Ocalan must be ensured.
The position of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan needs to be opened. Mr. Ocalan, is the leader and founder of the movement, has the legal right to veto decisions. At the same time, he is the only person with wide authority over the overall organization, the armed forces, and the youth structure as well as on the people. He is the chief negotiator for the Kurdish side. In order for the negotiations to be productive his free movement as well as health and safety must be ensured. In our opinion, all these are possible. These are our suggestions. We are open to listen, evaluate and consider all suggestions made by the other parties and corresponding people. In this context, I hope this conference will contribute to open a new path to the resolution of the Kurdish problem, and hereby present my respects.
06/12/2012 / Zubeyir AYDAR