By BDP Representative Office in the US:
To the US Public and Press
The recent “Democratic Struggle for Freedom” demonstration organized by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) on July 14, 2012 in Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey was both banned and violently suppressed by Turkish security forces. Demonstrators gathered to deliver a clear message to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the Kurdish issue can only be solved by peaceful means and through the restarting of negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish political movement, Mr. Abdullah Ocalan. Turkish security forces confronted peaceful demonstrators with violence as many were detained and hundreds were injured, including many Kurdish deputies from the National Assembly.
The Turkish government must put an end to the use of force if it sincerely wishes to solve the Kurdish issue. The ruling government AKP should take immediate steps to end the isolation of Mr. Ocalan and free him by initiating sincere peace talks to resolve the Kurdish issue. Negotiations between Mr. Ocalan and State officials stalled one year ago in the wake of the national elections in July 2011 in Turkey. Since then, Mr. Ocalan has been held under complete isolation without access to his lawyers. Furthermore, all of his lawyers were arrested which is complete violation of international agreements regarding treatment of prisoners. EU Commission and Council of Europe, as well as others in the international community, have criticized such treatment as the complete violation of fundamental liberties.
The steady rise in the violent incidents in Turkey that has been taking place since July 2011 is a significant reason why peace talks are necessary more than ever before. Hundreds of soldiers and guerillas have lost their lives in violent clashes and thousands of people have been affected adversely. Furthermore, the Turkish government has arrested over 8,000 Kurdish political activists, including elected deputies and mayors, human rights activists, attorneys, doctors, journalists, academics, students and unionists. Rather than making most of the changing mindset in Turkish society with regards to the Kurdish issue by advancing a meaningful dialogue with the Kurdish political movement, the AKP government has implemented the heaviest security doctrine among all the previous since July 2011.
Renewed military operations in the Kurdish regions have resulted in many deaths and continue to threaten the livelihoods of millions of people. In December 2011, an air attack by the Turkish military resulted in the killing of 34 Kurdish civilians, most of them children, in the district of Uludere (Roboski) in Turkey. This attack was carried out under the auspices of the AKP and was reported in detail by the American mainstream media because of the use of US drone intelligence.
The Turkish government has also taken a step backwards with regards to the Kurdish issue by preventing Kurds from freely expressing their cultural heritage. While the AKP claims it is making progress on Kurdish rights in Turkey, Kurdish people are still unable to express their identity without fear and intimidation. Just this year, the AKP implemented a ban on Kurdish New Year, or Newroz, celebrations. In March 2012, Kurdish celebrators were met with violence by Turkish security forces and were forced to end their peaceful celebrations.
We, the BDP Representative Office in the US, strongly condemn the Turkish government’s use of disproportional force against the Kurdish people and their representatives including the co-presidents of our party, Mr. Selahattin Demirtas and Ms. Gultan Kisanak. The violent use of force by Turkish security forces on July 14 is yet another example of the authoritarian tendencies of the AKP government. We believe that the Kurdish conflict in Turkey can only be solved through inclusive democratic practices that include dialogue and negotiations with Mr. Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish political movement. Talks and negotiations between Turkish state authorities and Mr. Abdullah Ocalan should be restarted in order for a lasting peace to prevail. Peace talks and negotiations like those between ANC-Mandela and South Africa Government or IRA-Sinn Fein and UK Government should be a source of inspiration for Turkish Government. These successful experiences had been encouraged by the US Administration.
We urge the US President Mr. Obama Administration, Congress and Senate, and the American civil society and media not to remain silent with regards to Turkey’s gross human rights record against the Kurdish people, and to encourage a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue that includes sincere peace talks with the arrested Kurdish leader Mr. Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish political movement.
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Representative in USA
1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
July 17, 2012