May 22 2019

Peace process to be relaunched without ruling AKP, says pro-Kurdish HDP

The recent meeting between jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and his lawyers for the first time since 2011 may serve as a springboard for a new Kurdish peace process, however this time around it will not include the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party said.

On May 6,  Öcalan met with his lawyers for the first time in more than seven years after a hunger strike began to protest his isolation. The PKK leader, who was captured by Turkey in 1999 and has been jailed since then on İmralı Island, had been barred from meeting his legal representatives and has had only limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between the state and the PKK in 2015. The PKK is an armed group that is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States.

"A new initiative is going to start in Turkey, but not with the AKP. A society that really wants peace is going to start an initiative. And they are going to do this by enlarging the democratic basis," HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli told Deutsche Welle Turkish.

The AKP launched the peace process in 2013 to solve the three-decade long Kurdish conflict in the country, raising hopes for peace in Turkey as it included negotiations with the imprisoned PKK leader Öcalan, which resulted in the PKK announcing its forces' withdrawal from Turkey. The process came to an end when a group allegedly linked to the PKK carried out an attack killing two policemen in July 2015 and a string of injustices against Turkey’s Kurdish community, which makes up roughly 15 percent of the country’s population, followed thereafter.

Five HDP lawmakers, including the party’s former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş are still behind bars on terror charges, Temell recalled.

The HDP co-chair told Deutsche Welle that the decision to allow Öcalan to see his lawyers was very delayed.

"It was a serious violation of rights that he was not allowed to see his lawyers for eight years," Timely said.

Timely also noted that the pro-Kurdish party’s support of the main opposition mayoral candidate in Istanbul, Eke İmamoğlu, was based on a democratic and not ideological alliance.

İmamoğlu, who defeated the ruling AKP candidate by a narrow margin in the March 31 elections, will garner more support in the fresh vote schedule for June 23, Temelli added.