HRFT’s Position Statement on the Closure of the Democratic Society Party
There is still hope despite the closure of parties, the rise and incitement of violence! We call everyone to be sensitive and responsible before it is too late! 17 December 2009
The culture of violence that will reproduce itself again and again unless we say “stop!” or in other words the violence spiral that covered the whole country in last days, with the developments after the closure verdict of the Constitutional Court against the Democratic Society Party (DTP) shifted to a critical momentum. The firearms that became visible in Dolapdere Quarter of Istanbul Province on 13 December 2009, fired in Bulanık District of Muş Province on 15 December 2009 killed two citizens and wounded another eight.
As an institution that has been struggling to protect and improve the basic rights and freedoms of all citizens without discrimination in this country in last 20 years, we have unexplainably deep concerns on the domination of violence in our political and social life and the drifting of our society towards polarisation and fragmentation without return.
As Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFTHuman Rights Foundation of Turkey ) we mentioned on every occasion that the most important obstacle in front of constituting human rights, democracy and a permanent social peace in Turkey is the “Kurdish issue” and all the steps that were taken for a democratic, peaceful and just solution of this issue are very valuable and we support them.
Furthermore, we criticised all views and policies that want to unlink the Kurdish issue from democratisation in Turkey and that ignore the economic, social, cultural, political and judicial dimensions of the issue and characterised the issue as mere problem of “terror and security”.
And again on every occasion we invited the whole society and political authorities foremost to be tolerant to and respectful of ethnic, religious, cultural and political diversities. We tried to remind especially the government that there is no need to take approval from any person or institution for all the steps that would be taken for all citizens regardless of their ethnic origins, religious faiths and political views to enjoy their basic rights and freedoms and in other words that there is no restriction on democratisation; both protecting and violating the basic rights and freedoms are issues of power.
For this reason the closure verdict of the Constitutional Court against the DTP is irrational and unacceptable for us. Above all, a concept of democracy in which political parties are closed and thus some citizens are banned from being represented in the political sphere and express themselves and from making demands according to their interests and needs is unconceivable.
Many international covenants and documents, especially the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the Republic of Turkey has ratified guarantee all citizens the right to participate in their countries’ administration via their representatives. Restrictions are only allowed in case of “violence” and its equivalent “racism” and “hate speech”. However, there is not any statement defending violence or containing racism or hate speech neither in the DTP’s programme or statutes nor in its political discourse until today. Even in the Constitutional Court’s closure justification there is not any reference in this manner. In this framework the closure verdict is in contradiction with the principles on the closure of political parties of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) – the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.
With this verdict which was obtained with the politicisation of the judiciary, the Kurdish people, who were ignored and discriminated, and whose ethnic and cultural rights were restricted throughout the history of the Republic of Turkey, were expelled from the political and democratic grounds. Under the existing political conditions no other political party – constituted to express the ethnic and cultural demands of the Kurds and in this respect to broaden their rights and freedoms – that can overcome the legal and practical obstacles and participate in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
The political power that has been talking about taking steps that would strengthen the democracy for the solution of Kurdish issue, exhibited imprudent and even promoting attitude in the closure process of the DTP. This is also unconceivable. The hypocrisy of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKPJustice and Development Party ) which very well knows the threats embedded in our democracy incapable of tolerating political parties is a matter of concern beyond inconceivability. The government, the opposition parties and the authorities of the State were unable to show the same understanding for a political party that millions of people elected, that they showed when Diyarbakırspor decided to retreat from the football league. This incident displays their double standard and intentions more clearly.
The closure process of the DTP showed once again that the Constitution of September 12th that was born out of a mentality of militarism and security, that ignores the ethnic, religious and cultural diversities, that does not permit pluralism and is based upon the restriction of rights and freedoms, constitutes an obstacle that should be immediately surpassed for the establishment of a democracy and a social peace that respects human rights. We feel the need to underline once again that this constitution, which was the result of a coup d’état, should be fundamentally amended with a perspective that focuses on democracy and human rights and aims at maximising political participation.
It is clear that with the closure verdict against the DTP our fellow citizens of Kurdish origin are once again subjected to discrimination due to the fact that their freedoms of expression and organisation were restricted. In this respect they are right to react to the grievance by using their freedoms of “expression” and “assembly and demonstration”. But for us as an institution that defends human rights and freedoms, the reactions which go beyond the democratic principles and traditions and include violence are unacceptable. Because violence is a fact that directly threatens and even destructs the fundamental human rights and freedoms, foremost right to life. While struggling to defend and protect rights and freedoms, one should take care not to harm the rights and freedoms of others, thus exposing one to an ethical and legitimacy problem. It should be kept in mind that the process of the closure case against the DTP had weakened the hopes and faiths of the ones that seek a solution in the political sphere without violence.
On the other hand, throughout Turkey the attacks that include a racist, discriminative and hate discourse on Kurds gained a worrisome dimension. The mentalities that reduced the issue to “terror and security” and defended “annihilation and violence” as a solution increased the dose of the racist, discriminative and chauvinist discourses in a process which had increased the hopes for a peaceful solution. This mentality has long enough been prevalent and caused heavy destructions and deep sorrows. For this reason we call upon everyone, and first of all the government, the opposition parties and the media to be more responsible and careful in their attitudes and discourses. Otherwise the violent acts that include discrimination and hate and that have been used more and more by large social sectors can not be prevented and social fragmentation will be deepened.
Without doubt the developments such as the deaths of the soldiers in Reşadiye District of Tokat Province that gives the impression that the active ceasefire was broken and the arms began to talk again and ongoing operations are increasing our concerns. Because of this the ceasefire should become permanent and operations should be aborted. For the violence atmosphere destructs the political sphere and does not give a chance to speech and dialogue that are the main elements of politics. And it paves the ground for incitements that are targeting the society as a whole.
As a result we should put an end to the shift in this violence spiral that leads our country and society to obscure channels that we could not predict from now on. For this reason we invite everyone to have common sense and to act with responsibility. We as the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, with our accumulation of knowledge and experience of twenty years of the social trauma that we have been experiencing, would like to emphasise that the only solution of this issue is in the political sphere which is non-violent by definition.
Because there is not another Turkey that any of us could go to…
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey