Thursday, February 24, 2011

CHP Holds Kurdish Workshop in Van

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu holds a locally made vase in the eastern city of Van. DHA photo from Hurriyet Daily News

The CHP's position on the Kurdish question has been evolving in the past few months since Kemal Kilicdaroglu became the party's leader and consolidated his power within the party.

CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrikulu and others have been leading the "new CHP" on the issue. Tanrikulu has gone so far to call for truth commissions, a long way from where the party was in July when it was still defining the Kurdish problem as economic in origin and shy to address minority rights/cultural issues.

Now the party has seeimgnly jumped ahead of the AKP, which is still talking about "one nation, many identities" -- a problem since most Kurdish nationalists, though eschewing the term "nationalist" (milliyetci), define themselves as a unique people ("halk") apart from the Turkish people. From Hurriyet Daily News:
The [CHP] held a three-day workshop over the weekend in the eastern province of Van, where its representatives listened to local actors – including representatives of nongovernmental organizations and opinion leaders in the region – on the Kurdish question.

Participants in the workshop generated a series of proposals that include potentially controversial moves to issue a general amnesty and an apology to the Kurdish people.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said Thursday that the solution proposals did not reflect the party’s official opinion or its report on the Kurdish problem, but the views of participants.

Speaking to CNNTürk on Thursday, CHP deputy leader Sezgin Tanrıklu likewise said what has been characterized in the media as a “solution document” was not the party’s final report on the workshop. The proposals made by local actors in the region would help the CHP create its road map on the Kurdish issue, Tanrıkulu said.

The text from the workshop called for the creation of a new constitution without any reference to ethnicity and including a new constitutional definition of citizenship. It also said the CHP should apologize to Kurdish people for the negative events experienced in the southeastern and eastern regions during the party’s time in government.

Other proposed solutions included a general amnesty for people accused of terrorism-related offenses with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the abolishment of obstacles blocking mother-tongue education and the inclusion of elective Kurdish courses in secondary education curricula.
TESEV conducted a similar series of workshops in 2008, after which they published a report summarizing and chronicling Kurdish demands (see the "Key Documents" section of the sidebar). The CHP's position is still in the making, but just where the party goes ahead of June elections is a critical development to follow over the next few months.

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