BDP’s continued boycott of Parliament seen as undemocratic

YONCA POYRAZ DO?AN
?STANBUL


Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party re-elected Hakkari Selahattin Demirta? on Sunday at the party congress that took place at the Ahmet Taner K??lal? Sports Hall in Ankara.
As the members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on Sunday announced that they would press on with a boycott of Turkey’s Parliament and backed a recent declaration of autonomy in the country’s Kurdish-dominated southeast, expectations that they would end their boycott of Parliament have proven false.
The party re-elected Selahattin Demirta? as the party’s chairman and Gültan K??anak was elected co-chairperson at the party’s second extraordinary party congress in Ankara, returning to the administration it had before the June 12 general elections.
“Democratic conditions were not ripe enough” to end the boycott, said Demirta? at the congress attended by more than 1,000 party delegates at the Ahmet Taner K??lal? Sports Hall in Ankara. K??anak said that they would not take their oaths in Parliament, which will be in recess until October, while people continue to die in the conflict.
Acclaimed pollster Tarhan Erdem wrote in his column that the decision to continue the boycott cannot be the “free decision” of the BDP officials. “It seems that the congress is going to use the issue of being in Parliament as a trump card. Is this the decision of the legitimate BDP administration? I don’t think so,” Erdem wrote in the Radikal daily on Monday.
“People who know illegal organizations know very well that an untouchable leader’s decision becomes first a committee’s then a spectacular congress’ decision. In short, the BDP congress was influenced by the hard liners and the BDP was prevented from making the right decisions,” he added.

In recent weeks, the Turkish military carried out airstrikes against suspected Kurdish hideouts in northern Iraq following a series of attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), killing dozens of soldiers. On Sunday, Turkish warplanes hit suspected PKK bases around northern Iraq while the PKK kept up their attacks over the weekend.

Kurdish legislators, who were elected as independent deputies in June to bypass the 10 percent election threshold, complained that the government has made little headway in resolving the conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people, and granting Kurds more political and cultural rights. However, they have pledged not to take an oath of office until five pro-Kurdish legislators held on charges related to terrorism are freed. They also insist that another Kurdish politician, Hatip Dicle, whose election was canceled due to his being convicted for links to terrorism, be allowed to take office.

“People voted for them to be in Parliament. Nobody is preventing them from being there,” said Kurdish intellectual and writer Ümit F?rat pointing out that Parliament is not under pressure by anybody and the BDP deputies are free to be there.

“They made big gains in the June 12 election and they should have used that. From now on their entering Parliament will turn out to be only a show. They should not expect a red carpet,” he added in reference to the BDP having doubled its elected deputies for these elections.

He said that the decisions of the BDP are more influenced by PKK hard liners in Kandil as an environment of violence prevails in the country. “It is hard for them to take their own initiatives under those circumstances,” he said.

According to Kurdish intellectual and former politician Nizamettin Bar??, the BDP’s attitude is not democratic. “The BDP is not able to act with its free initiative. The Kurdish problem needs to be debated in the legal arena and that means Parliament,” he said, criticizing the relationship between the BDP and PKK authorities.

At the party congress, K??anak listed a number of conditions for ceasefire and negotiations. Among them are constitutional guarantees for all identities, cultures, languages and beliefs in Turkey; legal recognition of an education in one’s mother tongue; decentralization and regional autonomy; removing barriers before women and easing their participation in economic and social life; constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and rights to organize; removing the election threshold; freeing Kurdish politicians who were arrested on political grounds; producing solutions to allow Hatip Dicle to enter Parliament; and establishing a constitutional commission that will include civil society and opinion leaders.

Regarding those conditions, F?rat said most of these are requirements in a modern and democratic state and the government will be decisive in implementing reforms. “I expect more democratic steps from the government,” he said.

Bar?? said that the government should isolate the BDP with reforms. “The government would gain more sympathy from the Kurdish public if it implements more reforms. As a result, the BDP will be isolated,” he noted.

The Turkish government recently took steps toward wider Kurdish-language education by allowing Kurdish-language institutes and private Kurdish courses, as well as Kurdish-language television broadcasts. But the government refuses to allow lower-level education in Kurdish, fearing that it could divide the country along ethnic lines. It also regards the declaration of autonomy as a separatist move and rules out any concessions on the country’s unity.

The European Union, which Turkey is in accession negotiations with, has pushed the Turkish government to grant more rights to Kurds, and at the same time urges Kurdish lawmakers to distance themselves from the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by the EU and the US. However, the BDP, which acts as the extension of the PKK in politics, has failed to condemn the PKK attacks.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) refused to pay a Eid al-Fitr visit to the BDP due to the party’s failure to condemn PKK terrorism. Eid al-Fitr, a three-day long Muslim holiday, was observed on Aug. 30-Sept. 1. During the Eid, representatives from political parties paid Eid visits to each other as a show of goodwill.


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