ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu addresses the party at Abant. AA photo
The country’s main opposition party has begun a two-day retreat in the northwestern nature resort of Abant to review party policies and shape future projects, focusing especially on reaching out to young people and women.
“We want genuine democracy for everyone – for youth, for women, for elderly people – a democracy in which any type of ideas can exist. We denounce oppression,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said in his address to party members Friday.
The CHP’s first ever camp of this kind follows last month’s referendum on constitutional amendments, which was approved 58 percent to 42 percent. The CHP campaigned for a “no” vote.
“We will discuss Turkey, global affairs, the upcoming general elections, the party’s policies, the new constitution. … We will create a unity of rhetoric and establish healthy communication,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Recalling that the general elections would be held next June, Kılıçdaroğlu said preparations to ensure a good election showing had already begun and added that the party’s projects would be announced soon.
Kılıçdaroğlu also expressed his distress with pictures published in newspapers Thursday showing police officers trying to shut a student’s mouth to stop her protesting against the president.
“There is no need to be afraid of youngsters. Don’t be afraid of their dynamism and energy. On the one hand you are trying to promote them as Turkey’s future when you are talking to EU officials and, on the other hand, you are trying to silence them when they attempt to make criticisms,” he said.
"No one shall try to give us lessons on freedom and democracy," Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to some government members’ statements. "They should first look at themselves, at what they are doing [in this respect].”
No report on headscarves finalized
Touching on press coverage about the CHP’s alleged headscarf report, Kılıçdaroğlu said no such blueprint had been submitted to him.
According to daily Milliyet, the CHP’s report suggests permitting the use of headscarf at the universities but seeks constitutional guarantees on a continuation of the ban by public servants and high school students.
“If the headscarf is an obstacle in the universities, we proclaim that, based on personal freedoms, there should be no such obstacle in the universities,” read the draft report, according to daily Milliyet. “Actually, at this moment it is not an obstacle and not being implemented as a ban in more than half of the universities in Turkey.”
According to Milliyet, the important points the report touches on are as follows:
- The headscarf issue is a problem for students studying at universities. Therefore, it should be considered a matter of personal rights and freedom rather than a religious issue. Within this context, the ban on students wearing headscarves while in classes at university should be resolved and abolished through consensus.
- Looking at the matter from a wider perspective, together with the changes to the Constitution and the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, the ban should be ended and universities should be permitted to become autonomous academically, administratively and financially.
- Leaving the issue of the headscarf in the hands of the Directorate of Religious Affairs, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested, is unacceptable. Should the matter be handled on the basis of religion, the possibilities for resolution may end up at a dead end.
- There must be assurances that the use of the headscarf will not be allowed in public schools for elementary and high school students. This negotiation would become null and void if the government has or proclaims any intention of approving the use of the headscarf at this level.
- Legal decisions and definitions of the law must be considered. Both the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court, along with the Council of State, have issued verdicts on the matter. In accordance with the unity of law, any new laws to be made should not contradict these verdicts.