This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ratified a bill lifting MPs’ immunity from prosecution. Although, it is a move that affects all opposition parties, it no doubt bites the Kurdish-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) the hardest with 55 out of 59 of their elected parliamentarians facing a summary of proceedings.
The billed was signed on June 7th, exactly a year to the date of the first Turkish general election of 2015 that saw HDP shatter the 10% threshold and make history by becoming the first Kurdish party to enter parliament. HDP and its leader Selahattin Demirtas become a thorn in the side of Erdogan. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to attain the majority it craved in parliament thus undermining their open quest to implement a presidential system.
However, the cease-fire with the PKK was soon shattered and a level of deadly violence and bloodshed returned akin to the dark days of the 90’s.
Erdogan has always tried to label the HDP as the political front of the PKK and such indictment along with the resumption of violence saw the HDP lose votes in the subsequent snap election.
It is conveniently forgotten that the HDP did not just decide to turn up in parliament. It was through the support of the hundreds of thousands of voters. To claim that 59 members of HDP have links to terrorism is tantamount to claiming that all their voters are also terrorists.
And this is where the vicious cycle of violence continues in the Kurdish southeast. Is the Kurdish issue merely a terrorism problem and therefore about wiping out the militants from the mountains as Ankara officials claim or is it about a much deeper issue of Kurdish rights?
If the root of the issue is not addressed, then no matter how many more decades the war against the PKK continues or how many more Kurdish MPs are imprisoned, then we would merely see history repeating itself over and over again.
If any of the HDP PM’s are imprisoned or if the HDP is disbanded under the terrorism banner, as the case with many other Kurdish parties beforehand, then there is little doubt that violence will only intensify.
A strong Kurdish party in parliament for the first time in history should have been the platform for long-term peace. The Kurds finally had a voice in parliament and the HDP were the natural interlocutors in the peace process.
With this voice gone and with the Kurds witnessing the little rewards of a political platform, youth will turn increasingly to violent means with the polarization of the country hitting new heights.
Officials in the European Union and the United States may have condemned the move to lift parliamentary immunity but still the voices are relatively muted. The US needs Turkey in the fight against the Islamic State and the EU continues to rely heavily on Turkey to stem the flow of migrants, even if all the conditions of the recent migrant deal have not been met by Turkey.
One of those contentious issues was Turkey’s failure to comply with EU demands to narrow anti-terror laws. And it is such laws that have crippled the Kurdish issue beyond the narrow-angled fight against the PKK.
It has long been said that Turkey’s road to the EU membership runs through Diyarbakir. At the moment, with a lack of institutional stability not to mention the right constitutional and democratic order, that road firmly remains to be paved.
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc