HDP co-chair rules out possibility of new peace talks between gov’t, Kurdish militants

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Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Pervin Buldan has ruled out the chances of a new reconciliation process aimed at solving Turkey’s Kurdish problem between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), citing the AKP’s ongoing crackdown on Kurds and the HDP, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.

The “Kurdish problem” refers to the Turkish state long depriving Kurds of rights related to their culture and identity.

“After all this tyranny, lawlessness, injustice and lack of remorse, can the Kurds still sit at the table with the AKP to start a new process? They can never do that, it’s out of the question,” Buldan said.

She added that peace talks between the two parties can never restart in an environment in which the government is keeping many HDP members and politicians in prison, replaces HDP mayors with trustees and prosecutes the Saturday Mothers.

A group comprising families of victims of state-enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings who have been gathering every Saturday in İstanbul’s İstiklal Street for a silent protest since 1995, the Saturday Mothers have staged the longest-running protest Turkey has ever witnessed.

Forty-seven individuals, including a minor, who were briefly detained for participating in the 700th vigil on Aug. 25, 2018, face three years in prison for violating Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations by “refusing to disperse despite warnings and the use of force.”

Buldan also claimed that the AKP talks about the possibility of launching a new reconciliation process solely in order to attract Kurdish voters since recent surveys show a downward trend in the AKP’s votes and not to make sincere efforts to solve the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem.

Referring to the collapse of the settlement process, the cease-fire that was declared by the AKP in 2012 with the outlawed PKK in an effort to resolve the ongoing conflict and only lasted until July 2015, Buldan accused the ruling party of ending it.

“We have never regretted carrying out that process. But the HDP’s growth during the process, its success … and its [ability] to enter parliament by passing the 10 percent election threshold for the first time on June 7, [2015 elections], made the AKP government quite uneasy. They got scared. That was one of the reasons [for ending the talks],” she added.

After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP lost its governing majority for the first time in the June 2015 elections, he reignited a war against the Kurds in the country.

Buldan’s statements come a week after Erdoğan blamed the HDP for the collapse of the talks during a visit to the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, claiming that it was the pro-Kurdish party’s “bad intentions, ulterior motives and hidden agenda” that ended a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire in 2015.

Erdoğan said his government started the process “sincerely, by taking every risk so that no more blood would be shed” but that the HDP “provoked, poisoned, exploited and, finally, completely destroyed” it.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, for over two years until the summer of 2015, when the death of two police officers near the Syrian border became the official reason for its collapse.

Since then, there have been continuing clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Both the  AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish problem.

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