The International Silence on Turkey’s Onslaught on Kurdish People is Harming Democracy and Peace

Rebwar Reshid

By Rebwar Rahid:

On May 20, 2016, the Turkish Parliament, under the majority of Erdogan’s AK Party, took another step towards strengthening a totalitarian system in Turkey by voting for legislation removing the parliamentary immunity of 148 members of the Parliament (MPs). Most of the charges though are directed at the members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Although there are other lawmakers, facing other charges, the main reason for the recent voting was to exclude the HDP MPs from the Parliament, silence the political and the legal voice of the people of Kurdistan, and stop them from giving a voice to the Kurds in the Turkish parliament.

Despite the fact that the Turkish Parliament has always been run by Turkish nationalist lawmakers, the voice of the HDP has had a considerable effect on Turkish politics. The HDP voice has been a critical voice in the Turkish Parliament for millions of people of various ethnicities deprived of their basic rights. Therefore, from a Turkish ultra-nationalistic point of view, to silence the HDP is to silence the legitimate voices of other non-Turkish voices in other segments of Turkey’s society.

Removing the legislative immunity of the HDP parliamentarians is contradictory to every democratic principle. Its purpose is to suppress transparency in the Turkish parliament and prevent the Kurdish representatives from continuing their democratic struggle in the Parliament to bring about peaceful coexistence between Kurds and Turks.

Further, Mr. Ocalan’s initiative for peace on the Kurdish National Day, Newroz, on March 21, 2013, has also been rejected by Erdogan and his government. The reason is that Erdogan and his AK Party do not believe in a peaceful political-legal solution to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Obviously Erdogan and his associates have a problem accepting a democratic and pluralistic society in which every member of every ethnicity is equal before the law. The war on Kurds is based on racism and a colonialist policy with its roots in the Ottoman Empire.

During the June 7, 2015 election, the AKP leadership used all the measures in their disposal to prevent the HDP from entering Parliament. However, when the HDP won big by 13% and entered the Turkish Parliament, Erdogan’s AKP could not accept losing its majority in the Parliament and forced another election, which was held on November 1, 2015. The Turkish government applied every means to try and intimidate HDP supporters into not going out to vote. In spite of the government’s use of inhumane measures, the HDP still won 10%, and maintained its presence in the Turkish Parliament. The priority for the HDP was to work to replace the current racist Turkish Constitution with a more democratic one under which every ethnicity, religion, sect, and culture is acknowledged and respected.

To suppress the Kurdish voices in the Parliament, on May 20, 2016, Erdogan with the help of the AKP majority in the parliament, adopted legislation (by 376 of 550 votes) that would remove the legislative immunity of the HDP’s MPs.

This matter is not just about freedom of expression of some members of the Turkish Parliament: the adoption of the recent law shows the gigantic flaws of the institutional racism and the myopic mentality of the Turkish authorities against the people of Kurdistan and other non-Turkish ethnicities. Erdogan has not learned from Hitler’s institutionalized racism that, eventually, it leads to the road of devastation and disgrace.

Therefore it’s essential for the international democratic community, as well as the Turkish and democratic and peace loving actors in the world, to stand against Erdogan’s totalitarianism and defend HDP’s MPs who are defending democratic voices and human rights in Turkey.

Furthermore, Erdogan is doing everything to destroy the current anti-ISIS coalition by insisting on the exclusion of Kurdish people while it keeps helping ISIS and other Islamist extremist groups such as Jabha Alnusra, Sultan Muran Brigade, and Islam Army etc.

Turkey is also imposing a blockade between Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The almost 800 Km long border is closed by a military chain which not allowing anybody through but Islamist groups. Turkey’s war against the civilian population is getting harsher and more brutal. Turkey is also using prohibited weapons and ammunition.

The rational, and also the realistic, option for the friends of democracy and peace is to:

  • Support the HDP lawmakers to play their constructive role in the Turkish Parliament. The exclusion of the HDP lawmakers will have a negative effect on democracy in Turkey, and soon, it will give a birth to a totalitarian system and hostile regime which will harm everyone.
  • Call on Erdogan to stop his aggressive policies and military campaign against the defenseless people of Kurdistan. The Kurdish issue is a legal-political matter and should be resolved through a peaceful political settlement based on honest negotiation resting on mutual trust and sincere engagement.
  • Acknowledge that the policy of assimilation, extermination, exploitation, destruction, and imprisonment has not worked in the past and will not bear any fruit in the future against the people of Kurdistan. Kurds will continue to offer resistance.
  • Encourage Erdogan and his government to stop hostilities against the Kurds and return to the negotiating table with the PKK and to free Mr. Abdullah Ocalan as he is the most influential figure in the political peace process between the Turks and Kurds.
  • Acknowledge that the International silence towards Turkey’s onslaught on the Kurdish people is not just harming democracy and peace, but also encouraging Turkey to believe that threats, violence and aggression pays off.

Rebwar Rashed is Co-Chairman of the Kurdistan National Congress – KNK

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