Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DTP Reaches Consensus at Party Convention

PHOTOS: Ahmet Türk and Emine Ayna will see the DTP through its difficult days ahead.

DTP held its much anticipated party congress this Saturday and elected veteran Ahmet Türk as its party chairman. Türk, largely regarded as much more conciliatory toward Ankara and a "dove" within the party, will serve alongside Emine Ayna, the party's female co-chair. Although Turkish election law states that political parties must have only one chair, DTP, by its charter, elects two chairs—one male and one female. Ayna is in many ways Türk's opposite and is much more hostile toward Ankara. While both politicians demand that the state recognize long-denied Kurdish rights as a foundation for peace, Türk has been much more active in making gestures toward Ankara. Most important and divisive among these are his repeated rejections of terrorism and attempts to influence the party to reject violence. Fierce hawk Mahmut Alınak had earlier announced his candidacy against Türk, but withdrew at the last moment. In contrast to Türk, Alınak urged a strengthening of contacts with the PKK and a much more aggressive position toward Ankara.

Just as important as Türk's election is DTP's decision to plan to bring Kurdish nationalists and Marxist-inspired Kurdish leftists together under the same umbrella. Kurdish politicians have long been divided along these lines, and the conference's ultimate result seemed to hint at a vigorous effort to bridge differences among Kurdish politicians in an attempt to acheive greater solidarity. If DTP is closed by the Constitutional Court, the hope of the conference is that such a broad-based and comprehensive political party might take a place. If DTP should happen to remain open, the party will seek to expand its reach and bring both factions under its wings.

Also much talked about at the conference was the DTP's role in the Ergenekon investigation. Ayna has been quite insistent that the investigation is likely to go no where and is only a function of AKP's attempts to solidify its own power. However, Türk was much more optimistic and referred to the investigation as important to Turkish democratization.

BIA-Net posted a summary of Türk's remarks:
Ahmet Türk said the following according to

“You may shut down out party. You may even arrest us, put us in jail, but the fact is that you will never be able to silence Kurds. The Kurdish people have paid every price for its dignity and free future and it will continue doing so. Instead of closing parties and limiting the political space, start a dialog with Kurds and open the doors of that you shut to DTP’s face. Let us stop using weapons as tools of seeking rights. Let us create a democratic and peaceful political space. This will, first of all, help Turkey grow more and open new doors for it.”

Kurds demand the right to speak in their mother tongue and the model of democratic autonomy
Türk said that he sees Ankara as the address of the solution and the Parliament as the center of the solution.

“Kurds demand recognition of their identity, to be able to use their mother tongue both in public space and in education, and the model of democratic autonomy that will develop decentralization.”

Türk mentioned the subject of roof party
Türk said the following about a roof party:

“Legal arrangements that will open the way to return to the social and political life will be an important step in laying down arms. Look, there are calls coming from İmralı [where Abdullah Öcalan, leader of PKK, is serving his life sentence] in this effect. Mr. Öcalan says, “Take different identities and cultures under constitutional assurance, the arms will be laid down in one month. This is a very important call. Nobody can close his/her ears to this call. Answering this hand of peace with aggravated isolation policies is a provocation and deepens the deadlock. These practices must be discontinued immediately.”

“One should pay attention to social sensitivity. We will take the approach and attitude in this area as the indicator of willingness to solve the Kurdish problem. This country needs a new soul, a new political understanding. Turkey’s workers, the exploited, need a roof party that will help those who demand to get together, with their different cultures, for freedom. We said before that we will support such a roof party that will help Turkey’s democratization, normalization.”
For coverage from Today's Zaman.

Also of note is former DTP leader Nurettin Demirtaş' conviction and sentence of one year in prison for evading military service. Demirtaş was arrested under the charges soon after being elected leader of the party last November.

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