Kurds to Stay In Turkish Parliament
Decision is giving hope that it may lead to an easing of political tensions
December 18, 2009 5:29 PM
A group of Kurdish politicians say they have reconsidered a decision to resign from Turkey's parliament after their political party was banned. The decision is giving hope that it may lead to an easing in escalating political tensions in the country.
Up until the last minute, the 19 deputies of the pro-Kurdish, Democratic Society Party, or DTP, seemed determined to carry out their threat to resign from parliament.
But, in the end, they withdrew the threat and announced they were joining a party called Peace and Democracy, or BDP.
Ahmet Turk, the leader of the DTP, explained, saying, "in order to enhance our belief in democracy, in peace, in brotherhood, and in order to practice our democratic politics for the brotherhood of people, we decided to continue with the Peace and Democracy Party. He says our struggle and persistence is a clear sign of the utmost importance we give to democracy. It is a clear sign that we defend peace and not violence.
The politicians had come under pressure from both Turkish and Kurdish activists to stay in parliament to demonstrate their commitment resolving the Kurdish conflict.
Tensions have been rising across the country following the closure of the DTP after it was found guilty by Turkey's constitutional court of supporting Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state for greater Kurdish rights for more than 25 years, a conflict that has claimed over 40,000 lives.
According to Turk the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan said he opposed them leaving parliament. Turks says on Wednesday, Ocalan met with his lawyers and he shared with them that to leave parliament is not the right move and our struggle should continue within parliament.
Though some political analysts says the decision of the DTP not to resign eased a further ratcheting up of tensions, political columnist Nuray Mert warns the government it needs to regain momentum on the Kurdish issue. "At this moment they've lost all their control, especially concerning the Kurdish problem or Kurdish region. The government has only basic state control there. Even if they had some, they lost all their moral superiority. So this problem may even become or difficult to handle," he said.
The decision by the Kurdish deputies offers the hope of breaking the spiral of ongoing ethnic tensions, which some observers say was threatening to tear the country apart. The government now has a chance to pursue its efforts to bring peace.