ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

DTP leader Ahmet Türk, seen with deputy Aysel Tuğluk at a past rally, says the party would be voicing the demands of Kurds on Sept. 1.
Up to 1 million people are expected to turn up for mass demonstrations in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır on Tuesday to acknowledge the government’s recent efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue.
The rallies may also coincide with the overdue announcement by Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, of his proposals toward the same end.
Noting past experiences with mass rallies in the region, politicians and journalists have voiced their concerns, saying that if this peaceful demonstration should turn violent, it would surely dilutes the government’s resolve to make substantial changes to resolve the longstanding issue.
“We will be on the streets and voicing our demands Sept. 1, World Peace Day. The rally in Diyarbakır will be the voice of peace from our people,” Ahmet Türk, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, which organized the rally, said Friday. “It is a very important day to ask for an end to the bloodshed. I am confident that our people will support the peace efforts. The entire world should hear our voice for peace.”
Following the Sept. 1 rally, the DTP is planning to hold another one in the southeastern town of Van under the same slogan: “Yes to an honorable peace.” The party has invited many celebrities, including authors Yaşar Kemal, Orhan Pamuk, Zülfü Livaneli and Murathan Mungan and singer Sezen Aksu. Academics and journalists will also be in town to witness the peaceful demonstrations.
Veteran journalist Şükrü Küçükşahin, a columnist for daily Hürriyet, said compared to previous years, he is less concerned about this rally resulting in violence. “I consider this initiative by the DTP positive and democratic, as long as it’s peaceful,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
According to Küçükşahin, the bulk of the responsibility for keeping order on Sept. 1 lies on the shoulders of the DTP and the security forces. “Party officials and the police should be very careful in how they deal with those who want to make provocations,” he said.
Just a week ago, following a football match in town between Fenerbahçe and Diyarbakırspor, thousands of young people clashed with the police for hours. Many who were present at the match said the incidents were instigated by the actions of some minor groups.
DTP’s stance is positive
The police and military are expected to take intense security measures Tuesday to keep any unexpected and unwanted incidents from occurring. Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, the coordinator of the government’s move to resolve the Kurdish question, will hold a press conference Monday at which he is expected to announce the measures that will be taken in the south. Security forces are also expected to meet with DTP officials to discuss ways to keep the rallies peaceful.
“I found the statements made by the DTP to be positive. In this sense, the mission falls to the DTP,” ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Diyarbakır Deputy Ali İhsan Arslan said over the weekend. “I think the red lines the government stated and the DTP embraces are getting closer to each other. I am confident that the steps that will be taken afterward will be backed by all groups.”
During the rally, the DTP is expected to outline Öcalan’s road map for a solution, but it is not yet certain whether the party will actually do so or postpone it again. Öcalan was first expected to announce his own proposals Aug. 15, but later delayed this, saying they were not ready yet.
Sept. 1 an important date
A consulting company meanwhile suggested that the Sept. 1 demonstration would also be an important development as it will be the date when Öcalan leaves the process in the hands of the DTP.
“In this case, the prime minister and his team will be under pressure to [give] satisfactory answers to the issues [raised by] Öcalan in the frame of the ‘Kurdish Opening,’” said a risk-analyst report submitted by S Informatics Consulting in mid-August. The report also highlighted the risk of security forces interfering in the demonstrations and suggested that a non-satisfactory answer from the government to Öcalan or to the DTP would make the process even more difficult.
“Taking no measures will cause a big reaction of the people in the region, and a greater reaction in Turkey in general,” the report said, adding that following the Sept. 1 demonstrations, it will likely be impossible to back off from the opening process.