As someone who has lived with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for over the last two decades of my life, I was sad and frustrated when hearing about the 13 soldiers killed in eastern Turkey yesterday. Like a ritual I am too far familiar with, I waited until the morning to read the names of the fallen soldiers, to hear their stories, to find out who they were; to find out who the people in the uniforms really were. I also read alternative news sources to learn about the other side, the Kurdish fighters killed; understanding that both the soldiers and the ones fighting are both Turkish citizens; both caught up in a struggle which has gone on far too long. While there are counter narratives at what happened, I do not find comfort in any of the sources. Last night, the dreams of young people were snatched away by gunfire and explosion, leaving their families to mourn for days, months, years, and lifetimes.
The clashes come at a time of great uncertainty in Turkey. Following the elections, some of the independent candidates affiliated with the mostly Kurdish Peace and Democratic Party (BDP), have been blocked from entering the parliament due to the fact that they are awaiting trial for crimes related to belonging to an affiliate group of the outlawed PKK Kurdish Workers Party. Topping the list is Hatip Dicle, plus six others out of the total of 36 independent candidates, who are barred from entering the parliament. It is important to point out also that in the case of Hatip Dicle, the Supreme Election Council (YSK) approved his candidacy previous to the election and only after his victory did they announce that they would not accept his candidacy handing the parliamentary seat over the to the ruling AK party candidate. Until now, no compromise has been reached and the 36 elected members of parliament have made it clear that they will not enter parliament until every last one of their members are allowed to enter parliament.
If this was not enough, the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella group for Kurdish groups has declared they are aiming for democratic autonomy, something that stands in complete contradiction to the Turkish state, with even the ruling AK party, once sympathetic to Kurdish aspirations, not even coming close to accepting. The congress’s findings were announced by Aysel Tugluk a BDP elected MP, who stated that the “Kurdish people do not want to be a non-status population anymore. There is no other population in the world like Kurds, which include 40 million people and do not have rights. We, as Kurdish people, are declaring our democratic sovereignty, holding to Turkey’s national unity on the basis of an understanding of a common motherland, territorial unity and the perspective of a democratic nation.”
While it was clear that the Kurdish demands have risen, something to be expected after securing such an important block in the parliament, it is incumbent upon them to ensure that the Kurdish struggle remains within the realm of civil action and that they work hard to secure a new ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK. Even if the BDP supports passive resistance and knows that the Kurdish citizens of Turkey have gained more through civil struggle than military, on this day it needs to reiterated. Likewise, the AK party and the opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) need to quickly find a solution to the parliamentary crisis and to ensure that work on a new constitution can begin which will offer the Kurdish society rights which they have been demanding for decades. The alternative is more bloodshed and violence; something that if it is not dealt with effectively will certainly only get worse.
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