The government's democratization initiative, announced in late July as part of an attempt to find a permanent solution to the country's long-standing Kurdish problem, has deepened the divide in the Democratic Society Party (DTP) between moderates and hard-liners.
The two poles -- represented by Ahmet Türk, Aysel Tuğluk, Akın Birdal and Sırrı Sakık in the moderate camp and Emine Ayna, Selahattin Demirtaş and Özdal Üçer leading the hard-liners -- appear to be in great disagreement as to where to draw the line in supporting the government's democratization plan. The moderates assert that meeting reasonable demands during the process should be enough reason to support the package, while the hard-liners favor a stricter set of requirements to be met by the road map the government is expected to announce.
As the government has been slow to list concrete items that will be included in the democratization process, the hard-liners have gained the upper hand, a development that has been reflected in the DTP's statements in the past few days. When the interior minister made a statement on Monday assessing the progress in the democratization package in the first month since its announcement, the hard-liner camp, led by Demirtaş and Ayna, managed to speak louder. Demirtaş, deputy head of the DTP's parliamentary group, who initially said the government's Kurdish initiative was “a continuation of previous policies, only re-embellished with nice makeup,” severely criticized the statement Atalay made on Monday.
DTP Van deputy Üçer, who defends Demirtaş's harsh statements, accused the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) of keeping silent in the face of the opposition's criticism of the democratic initiative in a phone interview with Today's Zaman. “It is very easy to explain why these statements which you call harsh are being made -- because we are seeing that there is no clear project behind what has been called the democratic initiative.”
Üçer, who has been working hard to win over the moderates inside the DTP, also said he was uneasy about a polemical fight between the government and the two main opposition parties -- the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“If the process which has been dubbed ‘a democratic initiative' is about discussing certain issues without employing a language of dignified peace, then it is obvious that we are against this.”
He said neither the government nor the opposition was using the language of peace. He called the MHP and CHP's approaches “provocative,” and continued, “It is only natural that we will have a reaction to the AK Party's undefined, vague, insincere and no-project approach.”
Differences in language and Öcalan
One of the fundamental differences between the two groups in the DTP comes out in the words they choose in their statements. Another difference is the emphasis hard-liners put on the government's need to treat terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan as a party to negotiate with. The moderates, looking to meet reasonable demands, avoid expressing this point.
Those who support the initiative use the word “peace” in their statements, while the opponents of the plan emphasize what they refer to as a “dignified peace.” The DTP's Üçer says the difference between a dignified peace and peace is the state treating Öcalan as the direct counterpart to talk to. Without Öcalan's involvement as an equal, Üçer says the process would be doomed to remain inconclusive, as it would not be a process of peace with dignity. “What we are doing here is not obstructing the process. We should look at who the parties to the problem are who can support the solution. Who can be a driving force for a settlement? We should look at these. … Hasn't the state been fighting the PKK for 30 years? In order for the war to end, who do you need to talk with?”
Türk, the leader of the DTP's moderates, has been resisting pressure to insist that Öcalan be a direct party address in the process. However, the hard-liners won the day in yesterday's demonstration in Diyarbakır, as both moderates and hard-liners agreed to name the event “Yes to a dignified peace.”
The DTP's “Yes to a dignified peace” demonstration held at Sümerpark in downtown Diyarbakır, where people spent most of the earlier hours of the day singing and dancing to Kurdish songs.
DTP holds mass rally in Diyarbakır
The Democratic Society Party (DTP) organized a major demonstration in the city of Diyarbakır yesterday, following a sit-in called the “Peace Wait” that started on Monday. An additional demonstration, supported by various civil society organizations, was held at İstanbul's Kadıköy Square. Both demonstrations were held, the organizers said, to mark World Peace Day on Sept. 1.
The DTP's “Yes to a Dignified Peace” demonstration started at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Sümerpark in downtown Diyarbakır, where people spent most of the earlier hours of the day singing and dancing to Kurdish songs. The park was decorated with posters and placards ahead of the demonstration. DTP members sat in the shade of trees to avoid the simmering heat. Meanwhile, DTP mayors from across the region traveled to Diyarbakır yesterday to participate in the rally. Muş's Mollakent Mayor Mazhar Yılmaz's official vehicle was robbed yesterday as he arrived in town, according to reports from the region. The thieves broke the back window and stole a case containing important documents.
In Kadıköy, the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and the Labor Party (EMEP), as well as other civil society organizations, supported a demonstration held to mark Sept. 1, World Peace Day.
Demonstrators chanted slogans supporting terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan at that meeting.