Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has lost its chance to distance itself from “terrorism” and be an interlocutor for a democratic resolution to the Kurdish question, a senior government official has claimed, calling on Kurdish citizens to establish alternative conservative, social democrat or even ethnic political parties.
“Alternative political organizations will appear against any kind of pressure. Not only one but multiple new parties. The people of the southeast are diverse; there are those with social democratic, conservative and ethnic backgrounds. They should appear and be vocal for a solution on the democratic ground,” Food and Agriculture Minister Faruk Çelik told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview during a visit to the Doğan Media Center on Nov. 17.
Çelik is an experienced lawmaker, representing Şanlıurfa, a southeastern Anatolian province.
“Turkey is a country with unending problems. No one wants the arrest of elected politicians. We are against this. We are also against the arrest of journalists. But what will we do if a journalist has been engaged in unlawful acts? Or if a mayor or a lawmaker turns into a toy of an illegal organization instead of serving the people?” Çelik asked.
Accusing the HDP of ignoring the demands of nearly 6 million people who voted for it in the 2015 elections, Çelik argued that the fact locals remained unresponsive to the arrest of HDP lawmakers and mayors showed their disapproval with the policies the pro-Kurdish party was pursuing.
“People told them to solve this issue in parliament. They are fed up with pressure [from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party]. They have understood that they have no objective of providing peace and comfort in the region,” he said. “This is clear that the people do no longer want conflict. HDP will not be able to get support from the people.”
‘PKK’s ultimate aim is to divide Turkey’
It was made clear that some of HDP-led municipalities were transferring a part of their revenues to the PKK and this was causing disturbances in some other municipalities as well as on some lawmakers, Çelik said.
“It was a pity that the peace process was wasted. Their objective was to stop the democratic process. There is nobody willing to be separated [from Turkey]. The fact that the PKK is against this democratic process shows that they are still trying to continue their attempt to divide Turkey,” he said.
Turkey will not be divided because of sociological, cultural and historical reasons but it needs to become a center of attraction not only for Kurds inside Turkey but also for those outside Turkey, Çelik stated.
Citizens need to be brave
Çelik admitted that the ongoing struggle against the PKK was not an easy one as he said “Hundreds of our people are being killed. This is not something we want but thePKK forces us to do so. It is trying to stop the birth of a civilian and democratic approach.”
“People need to be brave. The state will fight armed groups and will continue until they are rooted out. In the meantime, citizens should establish their mechanisms to be in this democratic race,” he said.
The conservative sociological reality of the Southeastern Anatolian region might have an important impact on all of Turkey, he said.
HDP lost its chance
The HDP lost the chance to drive the country to peace even though it was able to gain 80 lawmakers after the 2015 polls, the minister said. “But we could never understand who these 80 lawmakers belonged to. If a group of them could have shown their stance,” he said, criticizing arrested HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş for not being able to resist against PKK threats.
“If you are in politics, you will be ready to pay a price… Demirtaş was playing his instrument beautifully, he was delivering good messages. He could perfectly reinforce his path after June 7 polls,” he said. “But,” the minister added, “What did they say after polls? He failed to stand against the killings.”