June 18, 2011


Arab Spring, Kurdish Summer (SEBAHAT TUNCEL, 6/17/11, NY Times)

In a 2005 speech in Diyarbakir, Mr. Erdogan declared, “The Kurdish problem is my problem.” It seemed that he had accepted the failure of Ankara’s heavy-handed security policy and was setting a new process in motion. This “Kurdish opening” seemed like a step in the right direction; it offered the possibility of greater language rights, more autonomy and amnesty for antigovernment Kurdish militants.

However, it soon became clear that Mr. Erdogan was not sincere. Despite the Turkish public’s approval of the opening, the A.K.P. did not take serious steps toward resolving the Kurdish problem. On the contrary, it stepped up military operations, banned the leading Kurdish party, the D.T.P., and arrested Kurdish politicians, including me. (I was arrested in November 2006 and spent nine months behind bars, until I was elected to Parliament from prison and granted immunity in July 2007.)

Since then the government has largely ignored the Kurdish people’s grievances. Under the guise of an opening, it has continued the traditional nationalist politics of denial. Rather than meeting the demands of the Kurdish people, it seems that the A.K.P. is now dragging Turkey toward a new confrontation. The election of 36 pro-Kurdish deputies to Parliament will be the most effective check on the A.K.P.’s destructive policy.

As Turkey’s various political parties debate the drafting of a new Constitution, the resolution of the Kurdish issue will be of paramount importance — and this will require the active participation of Kurdish members of Parliament.

The unjustified arrests and military operations must come to an end and Turkey’s Kurds, after decades of struggle, must be granted the right to learn and pray in our own language and exercise self-government in our cities and towns.

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Posted by at June 18, 2011 8:10 AM

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