DTP replaces moderate leadership with hawks

Turkey's only pro-Kurdish party, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), caused concern that it is shifting toward radicalization and becoming the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) after it endorsed a controversial call for autonom

DTP replaces moderate leadership with hawks
Nurettin Demirtaş, who has been convicted of membership in the PKK, was elected the party's new chairman during the congress. Demirtaş replaced Ahmet Türk -- known as a moderate -- and pressed for rights for Kurds similar to those granted to Turks in Bulgaria, in a speech he gave at the congress.

During the communist era, Bulgaria's Turks were under pressure to change their names and were deprived of the right to use their language or observe their religion or customs. The repression ended in 1989 after 320,000 people fled to Turkey, forcing the Bulgarian government to give rights to the remaining Turks. Most of the Turks who fled to Turkey later returned to Bulgaria. "In Bulgaria, the problems of Turks were solved by giving them rights. We also want to solve these problems through democratic autonomy and the Constitution," Demirtaş told the congress.

A Kurdish politician who wished to remain anonymous said the DTP was openly acting as the political wing of the PKK. He added that the DTP is surrendering to radicalism and doing so without taking into consideration the situation in Turkey, acting in a very amateur manner.

Feridun Yazar, a former president of the People's Labor Party (HEP) -- one of the predecessors of the DTP -- who also worked to establish the DTP, pointed out that the election of the Demirtaş, someone from outside of Parliament, as the party chairman holds meaning. "To elect someone from outside Parliament means that they don't have hopes for a solution in Parliament. It is a sort of reflection of the idea among the DTP members that the deputies cannot do anything," Yazar told Today's Zaman.

Demirtaş was convicted of membership in the PKK as a student and spent some 10 years in prison, a party official said.

The DTP's congress, which ended in a call for the "democratic autonomy of the Kurds," came amid increased tension in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks by the PKK against military and civilian targets in southeastern Anatolia. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told US President George W. Bush during a Nov. 5 meeting that Turkey's patience was wearing thin in the face of the PKK attacks and received pledges of closer cooperation from Bush against the PKK in northern Iraq.

Erdoğan, in remarks apparently aimed at the DTP, declared yesterday those who have "destructive aims" against Turkey to be enemies of the nation. "Anyone who has destructive aims and goals against this country is the enemy of the Turkish people," Erdoğan told a meeting of his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) women's branch. "Those who present an image of Turkey divided along ethnic camps harm Turkey the most. I don't understand how Bush sees this while people here cannot."

DTP's congress is now being investigated by state prosecutors to see whether the gathering and statements made there violate laws that make separatism and calling for a federal structure within Turkey a crime, the chief public prosecutor's office in Ankara said.

Several predecessors of the party have been shut down in the past by Turkey's Constitutional Court, on similar grounds.

"It is envisaged that each autonomous section is represented with its own colors and symbols and creates its own democratic administration, although the national flag and official language remain valid for the entire nation of Turkey," the party said in a statement Friday after Thursday's congress. It also called for the recognition of Kurds in Turkey as a distinct minority and said it was ready to broker peace between Turkey and the PKK.

A small Turkish flag was hung in the congress hall, but the Turkish national anthem was not played and no picture of the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was hung, according to reports.

According to Yazar, the DTP can no longer profess to be a party of Turkey. He recalled that at its inception, the DTP professed to be a party addressing the problems of Turkey, and added that the attitude of the other parties and the media had pushed the DTP to its current position by excluding it.

"Among the hawks, the doves cannot live. Those defending the idea of a solution with unity and together with Turkish people are accused by radicals of serving the deep state and those Turks defending the idea of political solution are declared pro-Kurdish," he said.

A journalist of Kurdish origin brought to mind that the shaking of hands by the party's former leader, Türk, with Devlet Bahçeli, the chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), was not welcomed by some members of that party. He added that the PKK's strategy is to create polarization in society between Kurds and Turks but that the chauvinistic attitudes of the other parties and the media also contribute to this.

A prominent Kurdish intellectual, Tarık Ziya Ekinci, said he would have liked to see Türk remain in his leadership position.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Kasım 2007, 08:52