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    Peace process in Turkey after one year

    It was one year ago, 8th of May 2013, that the HPG (People's Defense Forces) guerrillas started to withdraw from North Kurdistan within the framework of the peace process initiated by the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan through his historic announcement in Diyarbakır on 21 March 2013. As the government did not take any of the required steps, KCK announced on 9 September 2013 that it was suspending the withdrawal, but continues with the cease fire.

    The peace process started with the historic announcement of Abdullah Öcalan on 21 March 2013 during Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır, calling for ceasefire and saying “We have now reached a point where guns must go silent and ideas and politics must speak”. The process continued with the positive response of KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) which declared ceasefire on 25 April and started the withdrawal of HPG forces to South Kurdistan on 8 May.

    On April 4th, a 63-member Wise Men Commission, which was demanded by Öcalan, was established from among intellectuals, academics, artists, and NGO representatives. This commission was to serve as a messenger between various social groups and decision-makers and to help create a fertile ground for peaceful resolution. After five weeks of work, the Wise Persons committee prepared a report highlighting the demand of people for democratisation including a new constitution, right to education in mother language, lifting of the electoral threshold, change in the law on political parties, and strengthening the local governments.

    The establishment of the Resolution Process Assessment Commission in the Parliament despite the CHP’s and MHP’s opposition was a further step to ensure the progress of the process and to enact a legal framework. However, the commission remained ineffective as it failed to undertake its responsibilities.

    During the withdrawal of guerrillas, the government continued the construction of new military outposts in Dersim, Hakkari, Bingol, Van and thereby raised doubts about the peace process. The construction of new military posts and dams, the increase in the number of village guards, and the failure to ensure connection between the Abdullah Öcalan and democratic circles led to the suspension of the withdrawal by the KCK.

    On 5 September, KCK’s Executive Council Co-Presidency announced that they would discontinue its withdrawal from Turkey due to the fact that the Turkish government had yet not undertaken its obligations within the framework of the second phase, saying that this demonstrated a lack of determination and commitment to the peace process on the government's side.

    The democratisation package announced on September 30 was far away from being satisfactory. Rather than a legislative change for a political settlement of the Kurdish question, the government announced a generic harmonisation package which even failed to establish the Kurdish language as a "mother tongue".

    A month after the suspension of the withdrawal, KCK Executive Committee released a “Democratic Solution Declaration” aimed for the continuation of the process and the resolution of the Kurdish problem through democratic ways. The declaration outlined the basic demands like bringing Kurdish identity and the culture under constitutional guarantee, recognition of democratic autonomy and the right to education in mother language.

    Almost a year after the initiation of the process, the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan handed to the BDP and HDP delegation during a meeting in İmralı prison a new letter to be announced on 21 March 2014 in Diyarbakır during the Newroz celebrations.

    In the meantime KCK released a written statement on the results of a meeting held between 3-10 March 2014. The statement pointed out that the Kurdish liberation movement undertook its responsibilities after the announcement of Öcalan’s Democratisation Manifesto in March 2013, and criticized the government for taking an opportunist attitude. The statement underlined that the AKP government has lost its political ground and function to resolve the Kurdish question and said: “The AKP government wasted the opportunity for the resolution and is thus no longer an interlocutor of the process and no longer an addressee for us to negotiate in the peace process.”

    Both the letter of Öcalan and the statement of KCK put emphasis on the importance of the post-election period after 30 March 2014. Murat Karayılan, member of KCK’s Executive Committee, stressed that the AKP government must take steps after elections and said : “either they take steps or the process terminates”.

    During his last meeting with BDP delegation on 26 April, Öcalan pointed out to the responsibilities of the government to progress the process and stressed that; “The process is altering the character. There is both an opportunity of a profound resolution and possibility of clashes in the current process. In particular the steps the government is to take could both eliminate the probability of clashes and develop a deepened solution in a new format."

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