Saturday, 14 August 2010

PKK: A Ceasefire for Ramadan and the Referendum

Forty Days of Peace with Conditions that May Lead to a Truce

The revolutionary armed forces of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that are active in all regions of Kurdistan and primarily in the regions occupied by Turkey and Iraq, have announced a unilateral ceasefire on the occasion of the First Day of Ramadan - the Islamic holy month - and have extended it to September 20, several days past the popular Constitutional Referendum in Turkey that is scheduled for September 12.

The PKK announced the ceasefire during a press conference somewhere in the mountains of Qandil, on August 13.

Among other things the announcement said: "From August 13 to September 20, our forces will not undertake any action, but will use their right to defend themselves in case of any attack against them or the people."

It also contained conditions that, if accepted by the Government of Turkey, can quickly lead to a more lasting Peace. Some of those conditions include:

o- making the ceasefire bilateral and comprehensive;
o- a release of about 1.700 political prisoners;
o- opening up of a formal negotiation process along political lines that have been published in the recent past by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the creation of conditions for Ocalan to participate actively in the peace process.

In the announcement PKK also said that this conditional ceasefire was initiated by a message from Abdulla Ocalan, who is still imprisoned under "special conditions" in Turkey.

Abdulla Ocalan's and PKK's conception of how this ceasefire can be turned into a lasting Peace is presented in an article from the FIRAT News Agency that we reproduce in its entirety below, titled
"Will the Turkish government be up to the challenge of peace?"
Below it, please see links to related news, and information on the photographs in this article.

The conditions for Peace that are explored in the article include changes in the electoral laws; the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation process (like the one that helped re-unite South Africa after the revolution against Apartheid); and a safe return home of all the guerillas.

The upcoming Constitutional Referendum in Turkey that is scheduled for September 12 might help to democratize some of Turkey's institutions. Turkey's fifty million voters will decide on new Constitutional provisions that would make the military more accountable to civilian courts, as well as give parliament a say in appointing judges. It would also allow public servants the right to collective agreement and the right to strike, and end immunity from prosecution for the military coup leaders of 1980.

We hope the Government of Turkey will accept this initiative and take the opportunity to work together with the PKK for a lasting Peace.

Cyprus IndyMedia Editorial Collective

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Will the Turkish government be up to the challenge of peace? August 2010

The PKK unilateral ceasefire gives the Turkish government a strong opportunity to engage genuinely in building a just peace process Once again it is the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) who took the first step. Yesterday's declaration of yet another unilateral ceasefire shows that the PKK is in a position of strength. Political strength, that is. Indeed, important decision needs (and can only be made) a strong internal support and consensus. This the PKK has shown to have. Not the same can be said for the Turkish government which indeed has demonstrated in this past couple of years (just to keep it close) to be hostage in turns of the army, its internal fundamentalist and sciovinist front, the opposition parties with their blind nationalism and racism.

The PKK has proved once again to be in control which ultimately means it showed to have a vision for the future. And it is a shared vision. Shared and common, which ultimately means it is a vision on which the Kurdish people agree. And again the Kurdish people in all of its shades and organisation, i.e. in all of its reach and diverse core of activities, whether it is the municipalities work, the grassroots work, the cultural work, the social work, the women work. What the Kurdish liberation movement has proved all these years is its incredible ability to face up to the challenges in all of the areas in which people's life is divided. There is a cohesion and consistency which is what has brought the municipalities and the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), and before that the DTP (Democratic Society Party) to work on the building of the so called 'democratic autonomy', a viable (and so far the only proposal on the table) proposal, model to run a state (the Turkish state) which is not (and sooner or later both the kemalists and the ultra nationalists, as well as the army, will have to come to terms with that) the 1923 Turkish Republic as Kemal Ataturk proclaimed it to be. Indeed it never was, because, for its own composition, the Turkish Republic could never be the territory of solely the Turks, with Turkish as their sole language. But this is another story.

Back to the present, the PKK with yesterday's ceasefire has offered once again to the (weak) Turkish government an opportunity. An opportunity to seriously go down to business, which means genuinely get involved in building a viable, democratic and egalitarian peace process.

Former president of human rights association and BDP MP, Akin Birdal, is right. "It is the Turkish government's turn to take a step", he said. It is indeed, and the PKK went even further as it spelled out four simple issues which must be addressed if there is a genuine commitment towards a lasting peace.

In its statement, the PKK says that "before anything else the continuous operations taken up against the military and political areas must be halted and a process of bilateral ceasefire must be developed". The second point is the request for the "immediate release of around 1700 Kurdish civilian politicians and members of the peace group who were arrested unjustly and unjustifiably". The third point underlines the need for the "commencement of a negotiation process based on the three-points resolution framework presented to the public by our leader Abdullah Ocalan and the creation of conditions for leader Ocalan to actively participate in the peace process". The last point asks for the "reduction of the 10 percent election threshold which does not exist in any democratic country". It is worth noting that Abdullah Ocalan underlined three conditions necessary to trigger a peace process: bilateral ceasefire, the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission similar to that established in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid and organising the return home of the PKK guerrillas (which would happened in different stages, beginning with the gathering of guerrillas in one place under the supervision of an international organisation and then, when conditions are suitable, with a return en masse).

Again in its statement the PKK underlines that "in order for this process to transform into a profound and permanent peace, the AKP government and the Turkish state must act accordingly. If the AKP government under various excuses fails to move forward and continues with its elimination process by imposing a deadlock, then it should be known by all that this process shall not proceed unilaterally. "


 Photos, Links, Sources  

PKK declares Ramadan ceasefire

Kurdish rebels announce ceasefire to September 20

PKK's 40-Day Ceasefire Considers Barzani’s Call

PKK calls unilateral ceasefire

Photo at Top
From the Press Conference where the announcement was made, showing Bozan Tekin and an unidentified woman guerilla leader. It was published by the Rudaw Media Company based in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the north of Iraq with the following caption:
"Having a photo of PKK leader Abdulla Ocelan behind, Bozan Tekin, deputy leader of the PKK (right) sits next to a female PKK leader talking to reporters to delcare a cesefire in the Qandil mountains, Aug 13,2010. - Photo by Hussein Himati for Rudaw."

Second Photo
PKK Women Guerillas.