The reconciliation process should be transferred to society and it should be freed from the captivity of the PKK, which prioritizes its own political interests rather than the Kurdish community's demands for democratization
The PKK, which has waged a separatist war against the Turkish state for 30 years, entered into negotiations two years ago. The negotiations are part of the reconciliation process run by the state, held with the aim of disarming the organization's militants and removing them from Turkish territory. The process also includes democratic initiatives.
However, the process is being hindered by the PKK and its political representative, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The most recent action was when the party's militants, who took to the streets with the HDP's call in October 2014, held demonstrations resulting in the deaths of 50 people. Despite all this, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is the architect of the peace, and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which is the implementer of the process, continue to push ahead with the reconciliation process. They insist on not returning to the exceptional security measures of the war period.
During Nevruz celebrations on March 21, which is a major annual celebration for the Kurdish community and is the beginning of spring, the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan made a call. In his letter, which was read out to a huge crowd gathered in Diyarbakır, Öcalan said: "I see it necessary and historic for the PKK to hold a congress to end the 40-year armed struggle and to set the political and social strategies and tactics matching the spirit of this new period."
Although Öcalan's statement is an important step for the continuation of the reconciliation process, the PKK does not act on his initiatives alone, and there are various factions, some of which are influenced by regional states. The most important of them are PKK commanders who are still in the Qandil Mountains in Iraq. These commanders argue that Öcalan undermines the organization by calling for disarmament and they call him a betrayer for holding peace talks with the government. However, they cannot announce their objections openly since they are aware of Öcalan's prestige in the eyes of the Kurdish base. Despite the cease-fire, they actually sabotage the process by inciting their militants to carry out terrorist acts in cities, as seen in the case of the above-mentioned Oct. 7-8 demonstrations.
As a party that cannot produce politics, the HDP does not want to leave the comfort of having electoral support, which has thus far been provided by armed politics. As a leader who recognized the Kurdish question officially for the first time and initiated the reconciliation process, Erdoğan's recent remark that "There is no longer a Kurdish question in Turkey," is driven by such rationales.
The PKK movement presents the discrimination that was inflicted on the Kurdish community by the state in the past as a justification for its struggle and strives not to lose the advantages that it has thus far gained thanks to the war.
As the legal representative of the movement, the HDP has not held even a single rally to support the reconciliation process since it was initiated. In spite of the fact that Kurdish individual and collective rights have been reinstated at an unprecedented level in Turkey's history, they have become more aggressive. Moreover, along with the opposition parties in favor of the idea of resolving the Kurdish question with a military solution, the HDP lashes out at the government and Erdoğan, who maintained the reconciliation process through reforms without being influenced by populism, even during the pre-electoral period.
The reconciliation process and the negotiation process, which cover topics such as disarmament, rehabilitation and homecoming, should be separated soon. The reconciliation process should be transferred to society and it should be freed from the captivity of the PKK, which prioritizes its own political interests rather than the Kurdish community's demands for democratization.
The problems of democratization, which are everyone's concern in Turkey, are not a justification for the arms of the PKK or of anyone else. Above all, peace can never be achieved under the shadow of arms. The saddest part is that as pro-peace journalists, we used to warn the state on the matter in the past, now we are warning PKK circles who have demanded a political solution and to be taken as interlocutors for years.