Intellectuals call on Parliament to step up for peace, democracy

A group of Turkish intellectuals, including academics, scientists, politicians and statesmen, in a written statement on Sunday called on deputies in Parliament to return from their vacations and convene for the restoration of peace and democracy. Criticizing the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, without mentioning him directly, the statement said the stability of a country cannot be sacrificed for the political and personal interests of a person or a ruling party. and”Waging or ending a war, continuing or ending an armed struggle against an armed group cannot be based on the political interest of a ruling party or a person in a democracy because these actions are beyond any individual, any political parties or any political expectations they are national and crucial actions that concern the whole nation,and” the statement, signed by some 30 prominent figures, said. At least 16 members of security forces have been killed in terrorist Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) attacks since a suicide attack blamed on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that killed 32 pro-Kurdish activists in the southeastern town of Suruandc on July 20 triggered renewed violence. Warplanes began pounding terrorist PKK camps in northern Iraq on July 24, the first such strikes since a peace process between the state and the imprisoned PKK leader got under way in 2012. The signatories said it is becoming apparent in the light of current developments that both the beginning and the ending of the settlement process with Kurds were due to the andquotpersonal calculations and ambitions of a certain person who keeps the ruling party under tutelage.andquot Without naming Erdogan, the intellectuals said he had sought social support for his peace initiative in the past because he had calculated that bringing an end to violence would serve his political rule. Today, they said, he expects renewed clashes to restore his power, with no concern for the painful consequences for society. The AK Party lost its parliamentary majority, for the first time since 2002, at a parliamentary election on June 7, partly due to the surprisingly strong showing of the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP). Critics and HDP politicians say Erdogan is avenging the HDPand’s election success, which dealt a blow to his ambitions to replace the current parliamentary system with a presidential one by stripping the AK Party that he co-founded of its parliamentary majority, by discarding the Kurdish settlement process. Pointing that Turkey needs peace more than ever in a situation where the Middle East and most of Turkeyand’s neighbors are suffering from instability, the signatories stated that if the clashes around Turkey continue and end up spreading within the country, then Turkey would face new problems in the future that will be impossible to solve. The statement said although terrorism cannot be tolerated or defended, it also cannot be used as an excuse for party closures, mass detentions, preventing the work of Parliament, turning tensions with neighbor countries into war or targeting politicians who are seen as an obstacle to realizing personal goals. It was also pointed that such acts are not the result of a prudent government but of a failure to govern. Citing all of these reasons, the intellectuals called on deputies to convene Parliament to end the atmosphere full of tension and to claim peace and democracy. The statement was signed by prominent names including former Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuirul Gandunay, professor of international relations Baskin Oran, former Tourism Minister Bahattin Yanducel and former Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) deputy Sirri andOzbek. andOmer Faruk Gergerlioilu, the former president of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) and a human rights activist, also called on for an end to clashes on his Twitter account on Sunday. Gergerlioilu pointed that the clashes have been ongoing for the last 30 years without any winners. He claimed the ones who fight in front of others — referring to the National Intelligence Organization (MiT) and the PKK — are having secret meetings behind the scenes. He recommended democratization steps and constitutional guarantees to be discussed immediately before the racial hostilities turn into chaos. Gergerlioilu also called out to the people, saying, and”You should not choose to side with politicians, you should choose to side with justice.and” He claimed the operations would only lead to more deaths for both sides and would only sharpen the distinction between the two parties, finally leading to another 30 years of political deadlock. On Saturday, another statement came from some members of the wise men committee, which was formed by the AK Party government in 2013 to increase societyand’s support for the settlement process. Columnist Ali Bayramoilu, who read the statement on behalf of the committee, said weapons must be silenced and an environment free of clashes should be brought back. The statement pointed that the settlement process partly ended the 30-year-long violence, raised hopes and was supported by many people. It also said the wise men committee despite their differences came together to try to convince people of peace. It was claimed in the statement that new dynamics in the process, mutual mistakes and failures led to a reversal of the peaceful environment since the end of 2014 and today, Turkey is on the brink of war again. The statement suggested returning to the settlement efforts and forming a dialog environment as possible solutions. The committee said they are ready to take on responsibilities in steps towards a peaceful environment.