Tuesday, November 11, 2008

CHP to Embrace Minority Rights . . . Hmm?

From Hürriyet:
The main opposition Republican People’s Party finalizes the draft of a new party program. Race, religion, language, difference in origin and sect will be considered the richness of our cultural mosaic, a condition of our pluralism and a necessity for our democracy, reads the draft

The main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, the target of harsh criticism in recent years due to its lack of transformation, has taken up the challenge to change in a new party program.

The draft program, updated after 14 years and to be put into effect mid-December, foresees a more active role for the CHP in solving the country’s controversial issues, including the Kurdish problem and minority rights. The draft, “From 21st century to bright future through a compass for change,” offers integration instead of assimilation to solve the Kurdish issue.

“The Kurdish problem is a problem of democracy and development. Ethical and cultural differences are our richness. Different ethnicities, cultures, sects and religious beliefs of those living within national borders cannot prevent synergy and the creation of a nation,” the draft says, adding that the removal of differences can never be a policy of the state.

“We offer integration, not assimilation. A mother tongue is a means of dialogue, official language is a means of political unity,” it says.

. . . .

According to the draft, the CHP will also launch a daring initiative on the status of “cemevis,” Alevi prayer houses.

The main opposition defends the existence of the Department of Religious Affairs, saying it should be open for each sect wanting to join and promises to grant equal status to cemevis as given to mosques, so that they too can benefit from state facilities.
We will see where this goes, but if the new party program does indeed lead to significant reversals of CHP policy on Kurdish and other minority issues, it will definitely place pressure on AKP and its reluctance to embrace cultural and minority rights. Such a party platform would also diminish the power of ultra-nationalist MHP, which has been able to form alliances with CHP in taking hardline positions on issues involving ethnic and religious minorities.

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