The government took significant steps in the search for solutions to the Kurdish issue, started as a “Democratic Initiative” in 2009 and later named as “National Unity and Solidarity Project”.
One of the first steps along the process was the establishment of TRT ŞEŞ. The channel broadcasting in Kurdish began to air on January 2, 2009. In addition, private TV and radio broadcasts and newspaper publications were legalized. The project coordinated by Beşir Atalay enabled speaking Kurdish in prisons to be free.
The first significant step in the peace process was 34 people’s arrival from the PKK’s camps in Iraq into Turkey through the Habur Border Gate. However, this incident caused reactions due to provocative celebrations. Hence, the peace process came to a halt.
The government still continued the search for solutions. This time, the national intelligence unit held talks with KCK managers, not disclosed to public. Meanwhile, the government kept taking various steps for Kurdish citizens. The prominent ones of these steps were allowing for political propaganda in Kurdish in elections, the first publication of a literary work in Kurdish by the state, and making the closing down of political parties more difficult, in which the HDP was closely interested. However, it was not long before these initiatives came to a halt.
The soldiers starting an operation to search for and find the public servants kidnapped on July 14, 2011 were attacked in Silvan, Diyarbakır. 13 soldiers were martyred. This spelt the end of the second search for solutions.
In September 2011, a 47-minute voice recording of talks held between intelligence authorities and KCK authorities under the observation of a third country was put on the Internet. The first to make the voice recordings news was Dicle News Agency (DİHA), closely affiliated with the PKK.
The government once again took its third initiative with a very different method at the end of 2012 and at the beginning of 2013. A step taken before this new process began was very significant for the HDP. The government answered the HDP’s long-lasting demand for education in the mother tongue by making Kurdish an elective course in middle schools.
In the process, PM Erdoğan made a historical statement. “If we need to drink hemlock poison, we will, if peace will come to this country,” said Erdoğan speaking about the peace process in the group meeting of his party on February 26, 2013.
The third step was different from the previous ones in many respects. Abdullah Öcalan, who was caught in 1999 and brought back to Turkey and – though sometimes interrupted- was allowed to meet only with his lawyers and family, began to meet with BDP-HDP delegations regularly. Various state institutions and intelligence authorities were meeting with Öcalan regularly. This process brought its first concrete result in Nowruz on March 21, 2013.
Öcalan called on the PKK to “take all its armed elements outside Turkey”. Following the call, the PKK decided to call a truce. A series of crises occurred throughout this third process referred to as “the peace process”. The particular turning points affecting the process were the killing of three female PKK members in Paris in early 2013, the PKK’s announcement on stopping the retreat upon the emergence of Gezi protests a few months later, and the crisis that broke out because of the coup attempt on December 17.
The biggest crisis that negatively affected the process was the events happening in Turkey as the ISIS entered Kobane. Women and children fleeing Kobane took shelter across the border in Suruç, Şanlıurfa. The HDP front stated that the government had to pursue a more active policy to help Kobane and called out for protests. 41 people died in the protests organized on October 6-8 upon this call and in violent events that emerged.
Two soldiers were shot from their backs during their off-day and the Police Chief of Bingöl was attacked. The greatest breaking point the process witnessed until then was the Kobane protests. The government stated that talks would not be held unless “public safety” was ensured.
In 2015, Turkey entered a new electoral process. The HDP decided to go into the June 7 elections as a party instead of independent candidates. In the case that the HDP could not pass the election threshold, it would have been not included in the parliament. This, in return, affected the HDP’s motivation in the elections in a different way. Desiring to receive the votes of the AKP’s opponents, the HDP adopted an aggressive language against the government and especially against President Erdoğan. The HDP pursuing a provocative policy despite the peace process and adopting an understanding of politics only based on June 7 caused the relationship of the AKP and the HDP to become very tense. While the HDP specifically targeted President Erdoğan, Erdoğan expressed his negative thoughts about the Dolmabahçe agreement.
The PKK considered the AKP not coming to power alone in the June 7 elections as an opportunity. It was not even one month after the elections that the KCK announced that the PKK ended the ceasefire on the grounds of the election thresholds on July 11. On July 14, KCK Co-chair Bese Hozat wrote an article titled “New Process: It is Revolutionary People’s War” for the Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda) newspaper. On July 20, KCK Co-chair Cemil Bayık called out to public for armament and building tunnels and trenches. The successive statements by KCK members turned into an execution on July 22. Two police officers were killed in their sleep in their houses in Şanlıurfa. As the PKK stated that it killed the two police officers, this incident was the move that ended the peace process. The agenda changed in Turkey, which was focused on forming the government.
With the peace process ending, an atmosphere of intense clashes began once again. While Turkey was bombing PKK camps for the first time after three years, the PKK carried out attacks against soldiers and the police in Southeastern Anatolia and Eastern Anatolia. The PKK was planning to take advantage of Turkey lacking a government. On the other hand, Turkey did not want the terrorist organization to make the slightest benefit from the vacancy caused by the outcome of the June 7 elections.
The PKK digging trenches in the Silopi and Cizre districts of Şırnak in this intense conflict climate was an intolerable situation for Turkey. The conflicts reached the peak as HDP authorities declared self-government by relying on the PKK digging trenches. Security forces carried out consecutive operations in areas where trenches were dug.
Regarding the point reached by the PKK and the HDP despite the steps taken since 2009, President Erdoğan stated that it was not possible to continue the peace process. Hence, the peace process initiated with the name “Democratic Initiative” in 2009 came to an end.
Steps Taken by the Government in the Peace Process
- 2009The ban on the Kurdish language was lifted in prisons.
- A Kurdish TV and radio channel was opened under the umbrella of TRT.
- Private Kurdish TV and radio broadcasts and newspapers were legalized.
- 2010Political propaganda in Kurdish in elections was made possible.
- The state published a work of literature in Kurdish for the first time.
- Closing down of political parties was made more difficult.
- 2011To train Kurdish teachers, Kurdology institutes and Kurdish language and literature departments were founded in universities.
- 2012Kurdish began to be offered as an elective course in middle schools.
- 2013The student oath recited in primary schools was abolished.
- The right to self-defense in mother tongue was granted to defendants.
- A law on keyboards was enacted. The ban on the letters Q, X, and W was lifted.
- The Solution Process Commission was formed in the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
- A “Wise Persons” delegation was formed to contribute to the peace process.
- Courses in Kurdish began to be offered.
- 2014Education in the mother tongue was allowed for the Kurdish language in private schools.
- It became law for political parties receiving 3% of the total number of valid votes cast to take grants from the Treasury.
- The Turkish Language Institution published a Turkish - Kurdish dictionary for the first time.
- Education in the mother tongue was allowed for the Kurdish language in private schools.
PKK’s Attacks Sabotaging the Peace
- 2010January 24, 2010A molotov cocktail attack targeted the AKP’s district building in the Ergani district of Diyarbakır
- May 1, 2010The PKK’s gendarmerie station attack in Tunceli left 4 soldiers dead and 7 wounded.
- 2011September 13, 2011A voice recording of the talks held in Oslo between the National Intelligence Organization and KCK members was put on the Internet. The news was first announced by the Dicle News Agency, which is affiliated with the PKK.
- October 19, 201124 soldiers died in the fire opened on police and gendarmerie buildings and security points with heavy weapons by the PKK in the Çukurca district of Hakkari.
- 2012August 20, 2012In the PKK attack in Gaziantep, 10 people died and 66 people, 9 of which were in a critical condition, were wounded.
- September 2, 2012It was announced that 10 soldiers died, 7 got wounded and 20 PKK terrorists died in the PKK attack against the military troop in the district center of Beytüşşebap.
- September 8, 2012The Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation to neutralize PKK members in the Hakkari-Yüksekova-Şemdinli triangle. 26 PKK members and 2 soldiers died in the conflicts.
- 2014June 9, 2014PKK terrorists lowered the Turkish flag in the entrance of the 2nd Air Forces Command.
- October 25, 2014Attacked by the PKK in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari, 3 soldiers died.
- 2015April 11, 2015A conflict broke out between the PKK and soldiers in Ağrı. 4 soldiers were wounded.
- July 3, 2015“If Turkey intervenes into Rojava we will make an intervention into Turkey”, stated Murat Karayılan.
- July 11, 2015The KCK announced that it ended the ceasefire because of election thresholds.
- July 14, 2015KCK Co-chair Bese Hozat wrote an article titled “New Process: It is Revolutionary People’s War” for the Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda) newspaper. Hozat called for a “revolutionary people’s war and uprising”.
- July 22, 2015In the Ceylanpınar district of Şanlıurfa, police officers Feyyaz Yumuşak and Okan Acar were executed while sleeping in their beds before dawn.
HDP’s Anti-Peace Policies
- 2014July 8, 2014HDP Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ suggested that all political prisoners including Öcalan be released to maintain peace. She insisted on the release of the terrorist leader as a prerequisite for peace.
- October 7, 2014The HDP stated that “the peace process would come to an end if Kobane fell” the Kurdish town in Syria enclosed by the ISIS. While threatening the government with ending the peace process, the HDP strived to strain Turkey’s foreign policy.
- October 8-9-10, 201434 people died in the countrywide protests against the ISIS and Kobane. In an armed attack on Bingöl Provincial Police Chief, the Deputy Police Chief and a captain lost their lives.
- 2015March 17, 2015Deciding to enter the election as a party, HDP leader Demirtaş went up to the rostrum and gave a three-sentence speech in the parliamentary group meeting of his party. We will not make you the president. We will not make you the president. We will not make you the president.
- June 8, 2015Selahattin Demirtaş threatened President Erdoğan by saying “We will not hang you. You will stand trial”.
- June 8, 2015“You will be pushed off this land,” HDP MP Burcu Çelik Özkan said referring to village guards.
- June 25, 2015HDP member Ferhat Encü: “Turkey must be added to the list of countries supporting terrorism”
- July 9, 2015HDP member Ferhat Encü insulted soldiers by saying “You are infamous. Get the hell out”.
- July 20, 2015“We lean on the YPJ, the YPG, and the PYD,” stated Figen Yüksekdağ.
- July 21, 2015“Our people should take their own safety measures,” said Demirtaş calling for a civil war.
- July 25, 2015HDP member Faysal Sarıyıldız was caught carrying guns to the terrorist organization with his vehicle.
- July 27, 2015HDP MP Abdullah Zeydan made a statement full of threats by saying “The PKK would drown you in its spits”.