The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has insisted on self-rule in southeastern Anatolia as Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu canceled a meeting with the party over the constitution, accusing the HDP of violence.
A meeting of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) called for the establishment of “democratic autonomous regions” for the solution of the Kurdish problem. The DTK had convened to discuss operations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and asked for “self-governance” in a statement on Dec. 27.
The group called for dialogue and negotiations and therefore sought the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The DTK also embraced “legitimate insurgency” and called on the people of Turkey to give support them.
People’s assemblies in the southeastern towns of Silopi, Cizre and Nusaybin as well as in the province of Şırnak have declared “self-governance” following clashes between PKK and the security forces.
Meanwhile, Davutoğlu canceled a planned meeting with the HDP, which is focused on the Kurdish issue and is a member of the DTK, suggesting its politics are rooted in violence, dashing faint hopes of greater parliamentary cooperation amid continued clashes in the southeast.
A written statement released by the Prime Ministry on Dec. 26 noted that Davutoğlu conveyed requests on Dec. 22 to hold separate meetings with the leaders of all opposition parties represented in parliament in line with the results of the Nov. 1 snap election.
All parties responded affirmatively to Davutoğlu’s request and, according to an earlier statement released by the Prime Ministry, Davutoğlu was set to meet main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. and with the co-chairs of the HDP at 4 p.m. on the same day. Davutoğlu was also scheduled to meet Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli at 2 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2016.
These requests were conveyed “without making discrimination” out of “respect for democracy culture” and “the importance attached to conciliation,” although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power as a single-party government with a sweeping victory in the Nov. 1 vote, the Prime Ministry said.
“However, statements delivered by HDP executives in the last week are a reflection of a shallow political stance that is diametrically opposed to this understanding, is aimed at polarizing the country, is far from minimum political kindness, does not comply with our nation’s ancient culture of living together and appeals to conflict and tension,” said the Prime Ministry.
“With this approach, HDP executives have once more displayed that they don’t have the maturity to consider politics as a tool for solving problems. There is no sense anymore in meeting with this unstylish approach and sharing the same table,” it said.
In addition to the constitution, the 2016 Central Governance Budget Bill, planned reforms and possible amendments to the internal regulations of parliament were expected to be on the agenda during the meetings.
Come just for a cup of tea
In remarks published on Dec. 26, a senior HDP deputy said there would be little to talk about with Davutoğlu as long as clashes and curfews continue in southeastern Turkey.
“Quite apart from the fundamental right to life, if the prime minister visits us without recognizing the people’s right to breathe and their right to bury their loved ones, then he will only be offered to a cup of ‘Kaçak Çay’ and then leave,” HDP Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder told reporters, referring to Davutoğlu’s meeting with the HDP’s co-leaders scheduled for Dec. 30.
“Kaçak Çay,” simply translated as “smuggled tea,” also known as Ceylon tea, is much praised for its strong taste and blood-red color, particularly in the southeast.
The prime minister’s meeting could produce results only if the country is brought within constitutional bounds, Önder said, noting that he hoped “the prime minister would turn this opportunity into a democratic opportunity.”
“In contrast to the perception which they have attempted to form in public, our prime minister’s request is not at all to open a discussion on his resolute stance in the fight against terror,” the Prime Ministry said, ruling out any “bargaining in the ongoing fight against terror.”
“In our country where there is no single province that he does not visit, Mr. Prime Minister has accepted all invitations for ‘offers of tea’ by our nation, and has never returned this invitation which is a symbol of the hospitality of the generous Anatolia people. There is no environment of dialogue to be held in this meaning with people who have severed their connection with this culture,” the Prime Ministry said, in an apparent reference to Önder’s remarks.
In a move likely to further escalate tension with the government, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has broached the possibility of building an independent Kurdistan.
“This resistance will end with victory, and everybody will respect the people’s will. Kurds will from now on be the political will in their own region. During these days when a historical breaking point is emerging, our people will decide whether [to live in] dictatorship or freedom and whether to live under one man’s tyranny or in autonomy,” Demirtaş said in a speech delivered at the opening of the DTK conference.
“We have made the decision on that. Turkey’s west should also join this decision that is made and lend support. There will be the reality of Kurdistan in the next century. Perhaps, Kurds will have their own independent state, the federal state, and cantons and autonomous regions as well,” he said.