Tuesday, 11 April 2017

RIC-EDINBURGH ASSEMBLY, 29.3.17 - TURKEY, THE KURDS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY





This talk on this followed from RIC-Edinburgh's participation on the November 10th, 2016 Protest outside the Scottish Parliament against the jailing of the Parliamentary opposition in Turkey and the suppression of the Kurds

Ezgi Denli of the Edinburgh University Kurdish Society gave the following introduction:-


Overview of the current situation in Turkey and Kurdistan

Turkey’s war on Kurds.
End of democracy and human rights.
Rise of fascism and racism.
Erdogan’s Presidential referendum and steps towards one-man rule

_______

General elections June 2015
HDP Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) gained 80 seats.

July 2015 Ankara and Suruc massacre Large scale oppression and human rights violations

November elections 2015
PDP gains 59 seats
Still 3rd largest party

Early 2016 - Turkish State's war on the Kurdish population begins

       Examples of state killing:-

       Taybet - Mother
       Haci Lokman Birlik - filmmaker activist
       Cemile - 11 year old girl
       Mother cries wanting to go to her son, burning alive in a basement floor. Cizre 08.02.2016

       Examples of state destruction of towns
      
       Lice, Cizre, Nusaybabin, Qandil, Sheik Mqsood, Gever

       Action of Turkish fascists at HDP offices
       Turkish state indoctrination of children
       Search of Kurdish girl at gunpoint


       BBC reported UN’s findings on human rights violations in curfew hit areas of south-east turkey (north Kurdistan Up to 500,000 people, mostly Kurds, were displaced between July 2015 and December 2016, a UN report said.

       In the period that followed, UN investigators documented thousands of killings, disappearances and cases of torture during government operations that affected more than 30 towns and neighbourhoods.

       Turkey to be added to European list of undemocratic countries.

       In a further blow to Turkey’s spotty global image, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called March8 for Turkey to come under its formal scrutiny, a status reserved for members that are deemed to be backsliding on democracy. Nine countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Russia are currently on that hook.

            Examples of resistance

            Statement from Asli Erdogan -Turkish author and activist
            Felenknas Uca MP - protecting an activist

15th July 2016 - So called "Coup" attempt fails. State of emergency established.

July, 2016 - Erdogan introduces purge.

       Education - 42,799
       Police - 9298
       Armed Forces - 6361
       Justice - 3000
       Sports - 2345
       Banking & Finance - 1637
       Others ministries - 1442
       Media 377
       PM office - 257
       Governors - 246
       Intelligence - 100
       Others - 308

Jan. 2017 - Erdogan attempts to suppress elements of remaining parliamentary democracy and introduce a Presidential system and end independent judiciary

April, 2017 - Referendum to be held

The NO Campaign is making the following points:-

The office of the prime minister disappears, making way for a strong, executive president supported by vice-presidents.
       
The president would have the power to appoint cabinet ministers without requiring a confidence vote from parliament, propose budgets and appoint more than half the members of the nation’s highest judicial body.  

The president would also have the power to dissolve the national assembly and impose states of emergency.          
       
Parliament would be elected every five years, instead of every four.   
       
It also introduces technical requirements that would make it harder for the assembly to remove the president from office or bring down hisgovernment 


Erzi gave some examples of the activities of solidarity campaigners

________

Discussion

In the following discussion, the following questions were asked:-

1. Will there be a NO vote?

There is probably a No majority, but the Turkish government is doing everything possible to prevent this occurring.

2. Who is Erdogan's base

Erdogan was originally able to appeal on both the basis of Turkish nationalism and Islam and the earlier success of his economic reforms. However, his increasingly authoritarianism, and the worsening economic situation has led to a shrinkage in his base of support.

3. Is the HDP a party for Kurdish independence?

The HDP includes people who support Kurdish independence, but following Abdullah Ocalan's (leader of the Kurdish Workers Party), now jailed since 1999)  strategy , the party is now for building grassroots democracy, not the exiting state, and has support form a much wider spread of people - including socialists, feminists and minorities.

4. What is the situation in Syria and Iraq,

The YPG 's (Peoples Protection Units) are similar to the PKK, whilst the Democratic Union Party has similar politics to the HDP.

However, Barzani's KDP government in northern Iraq is allied with Erdogan.

5. What sort of help can RIC provide?

Joining the protests against Erdogan and attending solidarity meetings. There is also an attempt being made to resuscitate the cross-party group in Holyrood.

6. Will Trump make things worse?

Very likely. There has been some cooperation between the US and YPG in the defence of Rojava when under attack by ISIL.  However, Kurds always knew that this was likely to be short lived, and that after ISIL has been defeated, the US will abandon the YPG. There is a Kurdish saying - "We have no friends but the mountains"

  




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