Peace process?

Issa Chomani

By Issa Chomani:

The Turkish government has been holding negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan under the settlement process since late 2012, claiming it intends to find a peaceful and political solution to the decades-long Kurdish dispute and the armed conflict between the Turkish military and PKK.

The clashes between the two sides have continued since 1984, when the PKK appeared as an armed force led by Abullah Öcalan. The PKK leader started the armed struggle when he couldn’t find a loophole to achieve Kurdish rights in Turkey and resolve the issues.

However, although there have been many efforts to end this long Kurd-Turk dispute which has left more than 45,000 people dead so far – including Turkish troops, guerillas and innocent people – both sides have maintained their actions.

Several times PKK leaders have announced a ceasefire unilaterally, asking the government for the truce to be mutual and commit it. But the Turkish authorities always rejected these calls and continued describing the PKK as a terrorist group.

From the outset of coming to power in 2001, Receb Tayyib Erdogan, the current Turkish prime minister, said he had the intention of solving the long-decades Kurdish issue, which the PKK is a part of,  although he has described it a terror-issue.

The talks between Öcalan and the government in Imrali prison in Marmara Island, on which Öcalan has been jailed since 1999, started under the supervision of Hakan Fidan, the deputy of Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT). Öcalan also held meetings with his lawyers and with parliamentary members of the Peace and Democratic Party (BDP)  as part of what has been called the settlement process.

Öcalan in Newroz celebrations sent a message to his supporters – one that appealed to both Turks and Kurds. In his message, which was brought from Imrali by BDP members, he revealed his plan to solve the Kurdish issue by stages. Firstly, withdrawing PKK from Turkish lands to the Qandil Mountains in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The government insists that all PKK terrorists should leave before the government takes steps that are part of the second phase of the settlement process. For the PKK leader, the process is still on track but, still, he made a point of warning the government, saying, “I desire to be able to pass, at the beginning of September, on to negotiations of the third stage, which is ‘normalization,’ in the process after making headway in the second stage.” Öcalan also made it clear that he thought the government should act fast in view of the developments in the region, so that the process proceeds in a healthy way.

Kurdish insurgents have demanded that the Turkish government take steps to make headway in the fragile peace process by September or face unspecified action.

The leader of the military wing of the PKK, Cemil Bayık, has called on the government to take the steps negotiated during the settlement process, saying September 1 is the deadline. He said that, if the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) continues to behave the same way as it has in the past few months, the ongoing settlement process might be irrevocably damaged.

He also said that the government should show its real will to maintain the process by taking the steps require to enhance the process initiated by Öcalan. “If no steps are taken by the government”, said Bayık, “Kurds will understand that the message the government wants to send is not one of peace but one of continuing the conflict and the destruction of the Kurdish people”.

Issa Hassan is a student at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler.

Copyright © 2013

One Response to Peace process?
  1. Tim Upham
    August 3, 2013 | 04:13

    The Turkish Government’s and Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s peace process, seems as formidable as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both require a great deal of work.

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