‘Turks ready to accept reforms for Kurds’: ICG report

KT News:

Pro-Grey Wolves hand signal

Pro-Grey Wolves hand signal

Mainstream Turks are now willing to accept democratic reforms to satisfy Kurdish grievances, says a report issued last week by the International Crisis Group.  The Turkish government should be less concerned about a Turkish nationalist backlash, it argues, than about the danger of a new cycle of violence erupting if the peace process continues to stall.

The report’s title, Crying “Wolf”: Why Turkish Fears Need Not Block Kurdish Reform, alludes to the neo-fascist Grey Wolves gangs that once operated with impunity against Kurds and others challenging the Turkish state. It criticises Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for stepping back from the promised reform process by:

  • not delivering “the easiest reform to make, a lowering of the 10 per cent national election threshold for parties to enter parliament” which would give the pro-Kurd Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) fairer access to the political system
  • failing to redraft the constitution so as to remove any hint of ethnic discrimination
  • retaining the anti-terrorism law that still keeps thousands of Kurdish political activists in custody.

Referring to the anti-government ‘Gezi’ protests earlier this year, the report notes that they “even unexpectedly triggered displays of solidarity toward Kurds from Turks in the west of the country, who had largely been dismissive about Kurdish grievances”.

It calls on the government to allow education in mother tongues and inaugurate a new constitution in which the definition of citizenship is “clearly not based on any single race, ethnicity, language or religion”.

The report also argues that this process should proceed separately from negotiations with the PKK and its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and that democratisation would “improve access to rights, education and political life for all in the country”.


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