Turkey is currently experiencing hard times. The hunger strikes in prisons over the Kurdish problem – which have been ongoing for more than 50 days and have left the strikers on the brink of death – are worsening the already grave picture.
News of deaths in prisons could lead to conflicts in the cities, and the activities of the Kurdish movement could spread to all spheres of life. For this reason, lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are planning to take the subject to Parliament over the next few days. Mass demonstrations and further hunger strikes could spread all over the country and the streets could become fire scenes. Intellectuals and politicians are struggling to prevent the deaths. So, how can the hunger strikes that are about to turn into death fasts be stopped?
Most critical issue
While interviewing Ahmet Türk, the co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress and one of the most prominent figures in the Kurdish movement, I searched for the answers to these questions.
“Turkey must realize that the Kurds are one of the oldest communities of the Middle East, but that this community does not currently have an identity. There are also some legal and rights issues. If you look [at the problem] through such a perspective, the process of a solution begins,” Türk told me.
I inferred from Türk’s statements that he was trying to keep his own hopes alive. When the subject came to the hunger strikes and the government’s approach to the matter, the pain he feels was reflected in his voice. Like Leyla Zana, Türk also said he regarded Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the potential solver of the problem.
“The prime minister could solve the problem if he wanted, but he doesn’t want to,” Türk said. “Erdoğan received over 50 percent of the votes and he is the only person shaping politics. Of course, he could solve the problems if he wished to, but he doesn’t want a solution. The esteemed prime minister is completely focused on the presidential elections and he is dragging Turkey to the verge of suicide in order not to lose the votes of nationalists. That is the situation.”
With regard to current president, Abdullah Gül, Türk said: “Frankly, the esteemed Gül does not have a magic wand in his hand to solve these problems. It is very hard for him to solve the problems without the prime minister, but I believe he knows that the most critical problem is the Kurdish issue,” Türk said.
The hunger strikes are the most critical and pressing issue to be solved at the moment. How could the strikes be brought to an end? How could the tension on the streets decline? Türk said he was ready to do his part over the matter, but added that the solution lay in the hands of the prime minister. “The esteemed prime minister must assure the Kurds who are making some demands. When an atmosphere of trust is formed, hopes for a solution will rise,” Türk said. “We know that the problems that have accumulated over many years can not be solved in one day, but the main intention here is to form a determined will that can solve the problem.”
What if the expected steps are not taken and the hunger strikes do not end? On this question, Türk fell into silence and took a deep breath from his cigarette. Hasip Kaplan, who was next to Türk during the interview, responded to the question: “Neither this country nor this government could handle the conflict that would come in the event of the death of even a single person.”
(The Journal of Turkish Weekly)