Dozens of Turkish and Kurdish intellectuals, opposition politicians and journalists convened over the weekend for a conference in Berlin, where they issued a declaration calling for peace and justice in Turkey.
Many academics and representatives of Kurdish and Alevi foundations, who have been forced to live abroad, were among the attendees of the two-day “Social Contract for a democratic Turkey” ,”held in Berlin’s Mercure Hotel, left-wing news site Evrensel reported.
Following the failed coup of July 2016, the Turkish government has intensified a crackdown on opposition voices, detaining thousands of military personnel, public servants, academics, writers and journalists it accuses of terror links. Turkey placed 157th out of 180 countries on World Press Freedom Index ranking in 2018 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and remains to be the “world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists” according to the same report.
Opposition journalists Can Dündar, Hayko Bağdat, Ahmet İnsel, former Democratic Society Congress (DTK), co-chair Hatip Dicle and German Left Party lawmaker Gökay Akbulut’, as well deputy chair of the European Alevi Unions Confederation (AABK) Mehmet Ali Çankaya, attended the conference, which discussed problems facing Turkey and the need for increased democracy in the country.
“Following a long period of repression, Turkey has seen that forces which believe in democracy can repel repression when they come together,’’ the statement said.
The statement recalled the nationwide protests and international condemnation of Turkey’s decision to dismiss three Kurdish mayors in the country’s southeast, pointing to increasing hope for the large number of voices advocating for democracy.
The Turkish government last month dismissed the mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Ahmet Türk and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan respectively, over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for three decades, just three months after being elected to office in March.
Ten working groups were established, which have vowed to taken on long-term projects, Evrensel said.
“We, too, are present, side by side and determined to defending peace against war, courage against fear, peace against conflict, renewal against decay, embracing against polarisation,’’ the declaration said.