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Support for Ocalan at a pro-PKK rally in Athens last year
Support for Ocalan at a pro-PKK rally in Athens last year
Ismet Berkan

ISTANBUL — A one-page document. That's it.

All right, let's include the appendix — that makes a total of two and a half pages. And with a big font too.

I am talking about the Draft Law for Ending Terrorism and Increasing Social Unity, which the government recently presented to Parliament. Five articles in total, in this new bill.

The word “Kurd” appears neither in the law itself, nor its justification in the appendix. It is as if there is a kind of virtual “terrorism,” of which the origins are unknown, and this law is being created to authorize the executive branch to do whatever is necessary to end it. You would think the executive had until now not feel so obliged, and perhaps might not do what is necessary, if not for this law.

But no, this is not the aim of this law. Everybody knows what needs to be done, and the depth and scope are already quite clear. The aim of the law is indeed written in its fourth article.

“Article 4:

1) Duties assigned in scope of this law is immediately carried out by the related state bodies and institutions

2) People who carry out duties assigned in scope of this law do not have legal, governmental and penal responsibility."

Yes, this will be the only functional article of this measure, if it is approved by Parliament and is signed into law. The rest are a grouping of wishful thinking and rhetorical language. Of course, there is also the assigning of the Public Safety Undersecretariat for the coordination of the “solution process.” This is all there is.

But let us circle back a bit, and discuss why this law was needed.

The negotiations have been underway since the fall of 2012 — directly with Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) who is currently a convict at the Imrali Island prison, and indirectly with PKK headquarters in the Qandil Mountains.

The government side does not call what is being done “negotiations.” PKK and Ocalan, on the other hand, want very much to “negotiate” and for the process to be called that.

On and off the table

In a negotiation there are things that can be a part of the exchange, and others that cannot.

For example, you cannot negotiate issues that are considered basic human rights —including education in mother tongue, constitutional right of “equality before law" that includes Kurds, all political ideas up to separatism itself being discussed at political platforms or the wider democratization of the country. These are the things that should be done, whether or not you have an armed organization against you.

However, there are also demands such as “democratic autonomy” which could eventually lead into a federation. There are demands such as “forming self-defense forces” which means a separate military. These can be topics of the political negotiation of course.

There are also topics like a general pardon, re-integrating the PKK guerrillas to get them to come down from the mountains into society, somehow facing the grief caused either by the government or the PKK in the past and the status of Ocalan. The timetable for those should also be negotiated.

This is the broad picture I have but both Ocalan and the PKK started negotiations from somewhere else: the status of the Kurds in the Republic of Turkey and the status of the PKK at these negotiations.

The matter of Kurds having constitutional status (being mentioned in the constitution as a founding people) is not on the agenda anymore, but the status of PKK have always remained on the agenda.

The codename for PKK's status demand was “legal framework for the negotiations.” The government resisted this first, and we see in the current bill that it continues to resist.

But even before considering whether a legal status could ever be granted to the PKK, the word “Kurd” is not even mentioned. Finding a solution to the so-called "Kurdish Problem" is both a long and winding road.


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Good COP, Bad COP? How Sharm El-Sheik Failed On The Planet's Big Question

The week-long climate summit in Egypt managed to a backsliding that looked possible at some point, it still failed to deliver on significant change to reverse the effects of global warming.

Photo of a potted tree lying overturned on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh as the COP27 summit concludes.

A potted tree lies overturned on the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh as the COP27 summit concludes.

Matt McDonald*

For 30 years, developing nations have fought to establish an international fund to pay for the “loss and damage” they suffer as a result of climate change. As the COP27 climate summit in Egypt wrapped up over the weekend, they finally succeeded.

While it’s a historic moment, the agreement of loss and damage financing left many details yet to be sorted out. What’s more, many critics have lamented the overall outcome of COP27, saying it falls well short of a sufficient response to the climate crisis. As Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow, noted:

"Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 °C was weak. Unfortunately it remains on life support."

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