There will be a very crucial national election in Turkey on 7th June, 2015. The President of Republic R. Tayyip Erdoğan expects in the elections an overwhelming victory for the ruling party AKP –of which he’s still the de facto leader. Thus he targets to have a large majority in the parliament sufficient to change the constitution for adopting a presidential system instead of a parliamentary one. He and AKP need at least 330 seats out of 550 total seats for holding a plebiscite to make the constitutional change. Tayyip Erdoğan wants to establish a presidential system which will provide him with dictatorial powers.
The two other mainstream parties –the statist party “People’s Republican Party (CHP)” and the ultra-nationalist party “Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)”– have no further aim than to weaken the ruling AKP.
However one thing makes this election very crucial: For the first time, a predominantly Kurdish party –namely “Peoples’ Democratic Party” (HDP)– has a chance to pass the 10 per cent election threshold and thus to win around 60-70 seats in the parliament.
HDP was a project of the Kurdish movement by which it aimed to create a political party representing not only the Kurds but also the progressive sections of the Turkish population. Although the overwhelming majority of the party’s cadres and voter base are Kurds, living mostly in the southeast region, several small Turkish socialist groups participated in HDP to make it a “Turkey’s party” able to get some support also from the western part of the country. The making of a party able to address to the diverse communities in Turkey with different political, cultural and religious tendencies is a very important duty to win a real, fair and lasting peace regarding the Kurdish question. I think that this duty is still far from being accomplished, but this is not the subject matter of this article.
What happens if HDP passes the 10 per cent election threshold which requires about 4.6-4.7 million votes? Well, if HDP succeeds to pass the threshold, the ruling party will probably obtain a weak majority which will enable it to form the government but will not be sufficient to change the constitution by itself. In this case it could need the support of HDP and in return would have to make considerable concessions to the Kurdish population such as a kind of autonomy in the predominantly Kurdish regions.
Recent polls suggest that either HDP will pass the election threshold with a little amount of extra votes (such as 10.5 per cent) or it will remain under the threshold again with a small difference (such as 9-9.5 per cent).
So since the success of HDP will restrict Erdoğan’s and AKP’s dominance over Turkey’s society such as its power to use the parliament to enact laws for transferring country’s wealth to pro-AKP corporations, to prevent large portions of the population from bringing their demands to the public sphere. Most importantly the success of HDP will give a powerful political leverage to the Kurds. These are the reason why, its success should be prevented at any price. And that’s why Turkish military, in collaboration with Erdoğan and AKP, attempted to criminalize HDP by a very dangerous provocation.
An inhuman provocation to criminalize and thus to defeat HDP
The local party branch of HDP in a district of Ağrı (an eastern Kurdish city on the Iranian border) organized a spring festival that would take place on 11th April in an open field near to a mountainous area. The city governor ordered the gendarmerie to send troops to the festival area one night before its beginning. The governor would later claim that they had relied on intelligence information that PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) guerillas would participate to the festival and put pressure on local people to vote for HDP. Later developments refuted this claim.
That night the gendarmerie troops organized an operation against PKK guerillas that were based on the mountainous area.
Since the peace talks between government authorities and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan –who is imprisoned to life sentence– began two years ago, neither sides attacked each other and an unofficial cease-fire took effect. PKK guerillas only partially withdrew to Iraqi Kurdistan on the grounds that the military and government have continued to build fortifications and didn’t stop the preparations for a possible warfare. So PKK guerillas are still there, based in various places in Turkey’s Kurdistan without organizing any attack. Indeed, as I just emphasized, neither the Turkish military has attempted any wide scale operation for about two years. The operation which took place on 11th April night was as open violation of the cease-fire.
But the story didn’t end up here. One guerilla has been shot dead during the military operation. The next day morning two civilians, one of them the ex-co-chair of the local Kurdish party branch and the other the administrator of a Kurdish NGO have been shot by soldiers. They had come to the field to hang the banner of the festival. The ex-co-chair Cezmi Budak was dead and the other, Cenap İlboğa was heavily wounded.
Then local people, hundreds of man and women who heard about the skirmish, attempted to enter to the festival area for building a human shield between the troops and the PKK guerilla. Their aim was to keep peace. However they got prevented by soldiers and had to detour to reach to the area. There they got through to soldiers’ positions on a hill and found out that the troops had been left to their fates after a skirmish which lasted 14 hours. Some of them were wounded and the military didn’t even attempt to rescue their own soldiers.
We all have seen the videos shot by a Kurdish news agency. The Kurdish villagers helped to the wounded soldiers who had killed their fellow man, carried them with blankets and delivered to the troops waiting behind the conflict area.
A Kurdish villager was saying, “we will teach you a lesson of humanity and help you”.
The goal of the provocation…
The goal of the provocation was obvious. Turkish military was also worrying that HDP might pass the election threshold and cooperated with T. Erdoğan and AKP to prevent this from happening. The scenario was as follow: the gendarmerie troops were sent there without any protection and the helicopters didn’t try to rescue the wounded soldiers. So the military and the AKP government planned that some 10 or 15 soldiers would be dead. Then PKK would be blamed for having killed innocent Turkish soldiers and having blocked the peaceful and democratic election process. Thus HDP, in a sense the representative of the Kurdish movement in the legal sphere, would be branded –once again– as the party supporting PKK terror. Consequently those Kurdish and Turkish voters who were tending to vote for HDP would change their minds.
This provocation was not effective for the eyes that are not blinded by pro-AKP propaganda machine, because it was so awkwardly plotted that it became obvious that it was a plot. Even the leader of the statist main opposition party CHP, Kılıcdaroglu acclaimed that the soldiers were deliberately sent to death –although his aim was basically to defend the military.
The Ağrı provocation showed that how T. Erdoğan and AKP can take every risk to remain in power and to protect the advantages of newly developed elites.
But it also showed a more crucial possibility: as President of Republic T. Erdoğan and his ruling party ally themselves with the military in order to remain in power, the military is returning to the political stage and increases slowly its weight. At the end of day who will benefit most from this collaboration? Recent history has made it clear that every time the Turkish military increased its sphere of influence, any attempt to a lasting peaceful solution to the Kurdish had been doomed to fail and the governing leader and his/her party had found out that their maneuvering room has been restricted.
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