Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hypocrisy continues unabated

Apply your Cyprus logic. First, make Kurdish an official language without any delay. Then discuss power sharing with Kurds on an equality basis, as you understand equality in Cyprus. Rest assured we will simply not let you forget your Cyprus logic, until it becomes logical. At the end of the day, Turks of Turkey and Greek Cypriots, as the majorities in their respective nations, think alike!

Sezgin Tanrikulu
The hypocrisy by Turkish politicians continues unabated. It is our job to remind them that in Cyprus their logic is very different, based on separation as opposed to assimilation pursued at home. It is our job to inquire into the reasons for the different principles. It is our job to expose the blatant hypocrisy. At the end of the day I am not the one to decide which is the right approach in majority/minority relations of different ethnic-language communities in a country. I am certain however that what applies in one case must apply in the other too, given that in both Turkey calls the shots!

"Truth commission key for solution of Kurdish problem, says CHP" Sunday's Zaman 30 January 2011

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairman and well known for his activism in the field of human rights, said that in order to prepare the groundwork for a solution to the Kurdish question, trauma must be overcome and to this end, a truth commission should be established under the roof of Parliament.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman in an exclusive interview, the former chairman of the Diyarbakır Bar Association also claimed that the CHP can play a key role in easing the deadlock in the Kurdish issue, which is why he chose to enter politics though the main opposition party. According to him, the restoration of public trust in justice, a brand new constitution and lowering the election threshold are the key parameters in solving the Kurdish question.

The CHP is also working on some related subjects, such as the abolishment of the village guard system and of course the economic dimension of the Kurdish question, which will be shared with the public very soon.

Tanrıkulu said that over the last 30 years, especially in the 1990s, many crimes against humanity were committed in Turkey and many parliamentary inquiry commissions were established to look into them but, despite their important findings, they did not come to any conclusions. It is very important to revitalize these efforts in order to prepare the ground for a solution to the Kurdish problem.

“This time a truth commission has to be established by law, based on the consensus and participation of the political parties. Civil society organizations should be active parts of this process. The commission should have broad authority and be allowed to talk to all witnesses and suspects and request any document from relevant state institutions. Only under these conditions can it be successful,” he said.

According to him, in order to solve the Kurdish question and improve democracy, the public’s trust in justice must first be strengthened, which can be achieved by establishing a truth commission.

“Such a commission is important to discover not only the suspects of murders but also what is behind these murders and other crimes against humanity. We are planning to address the conscience of every single individual. Such a commission should include well-known people who are trusted by the public: neutral and respected figures. Each political party should be represented by only one member in this commission,” he said.

Tanrıkulu underlined that strengthening faith in justice is the key but that there are some other key issues which should be addressed. “Of course a brand new constitution is needed as well. There is the economic aspect of the Kurdish question we are working on that has to be addressed. We will share it with the public when it is ready. I think lowering the election threshold is also very important. These are vital issues in solving this problem, and some related steps have to be taken, such as abolishing the village guard system,” he said.

When questioned about the sincerity of the CHP and whether he was alone or if his ideas were also the party’s ideas, he said that he was a deputy chairman of the party and was not acting alone.

When reminded that the CHP in the past claimed it was the lawyer of Ergenekon, a clandestine group charged with plotting to overthrow to government, while CHP Deputy Chairman Süheyl Batum recently hinted at CHP plans to nominate Ergenekon suspects as CHP candidates for Parliament, Tanrıkulu said that there is a difference between opposing violation of the principle of the right to a fair trial and defending coup attempts.

“No one in the current CHP administration defends coups, coup attempts or the games of clandestine forces, but regardless of the suspects and the subject of the case, the principle of the right to a fair trial must be obeyed. If the Ergenekon case is important for the democratization of the country, the public’s respect for the court process is important and can be assured by observing the fair trial principle. The CHP defends everyone’s right to a fair trial, regardless of what they are charged with. This applies to the Ergenekon case as well. The right to a fair trial is being violated for the Ergenekon trial. No one can make me say suspects should have been kept under arrest. There is no reason for it. But there is a very thin line between defending the right to a fair trial and the essence of the Ergenekon trial. This line is being blurred,” he said.

Asked about his personal position regarding claims that the CHP is planning to nominate Ergenekon suspects, he said that no one in the party is willing to be identified with the Ergenekon case. Answering questions about his entering politics through the CHP, Tanrıkulu said the CHP has a key role to play and has established a positive discourse.

“I noticed that the CHP was trying to establish this discourse. It was giving those signals, and that is why I decided to join the party. The question for the CHP was to choose between remaining the opposition power or taking the problems of different segments of society into consideration, thus being a candidate for power. The current administration of the CHP picked the second option,” he said.

He underlined that the CHP distanced itself from Kurdish voters starting in the 1990s and it is not represented in Kurdish areas at all; however, the grass roots of the CHP have no problem with the Kurds.

“I think if the CHP is able to explain the true nature of the Kurdish question to its grass roots, these supporters will be a key element in the solution of the problem. We should recall that before the BDP [pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party], the Kurds were voting for the CHP, but the negative discourse that the CHP maintained for a while and the tense atmosphere made the Kurds distance themselves. But the situation is changing now,” he underlined.

When asked if the CHP would be able to compete with the BDP in the region, Tanrıkulu said that the BDP’s supporters are like an iron core. According to him this core hardened due to the state’s unjust actions.

“If the CHP is able draft policies based on justice, equality and freedom not only for the Kurds, but for all segments that have remained distant from the party, it can earn the support of those people,” he said.

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Turkey's Kurds & Cyprus' tCypriots

As either unitary state or federation solutions are discussed as replacements to Cyprus' 1960 and Turkey's 1923 unworkable constitutions, should we abide by "if a right is a right too many for Turkey's Kurdish community (circa 23% of population) then that right is a right too many for Cyprus' tCypriot community too (circa 15%), and vice versa." Is the adoption of this fair logic the catalyst to securing just solutions for both UN countries.