Kurds say democratization package isn’t enough
Turkish Premier Erdoğan has announced the long-awaited democratization package which is designed to resolve the decades-long conflict with the country’s large Kurdish minority.
At long last, Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdoğan, unveiled Turkey’s democratization package. Soon after the announcement of the package, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party ( BDP) stated that the package will not meet Kurdish demands. They claim it is designed to meet the demands of the ruling party and call it an election package.
At a press conference, the Turkish Prime Minister said that, “With all the obstacles over the past 11 years, we can improve democracy.” He went on to say: “The package will not heal all the wounds, but challenging this aim is critical. The reforms we unveil today will not be an end to the democratizing of this country. This package is not the first initiative, nor will it be the last.”
The democratization package introduces a number of constitutional changes and amendments in the sphere of individual rights.
Erdoğan proposed lowering the 10 % electoral threshold to 5 %, thereby removing a barrier to the Kurds and smaller parties securing more seats in parliament.
A longstanding goal of Premier Erdogan’s AKP party was to end the ban on women wearing headscarves in the public services, and the package puts an end to that ban.
Thousands of Kurds in Turkey took to the streets and gave a thumbs down to the government reforms designed to promote the peace process with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
They waved banners showing their displeasure that the package and other recent measures make no mention of setting the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, free.
During the protest, a BDP official addressed the crowd: “With this rally, we have shown that we want a reform package which recognizes a status for Kurdistan as well as freedom for Ocalan.”
Many political experts say the package does not go far enough in meeting Kurdish demands.
The package will allow towns to use their Kurdish, rather than Turkish, names, as well as permitting Kurds to study in their mother tongue. Although this is a major concession, it only applies to private schools, which makes it less significant.
On the other hand, the reforms announced by the Turkish Prime Minister were welcomed by some local residents.
“These reforms are good. I do believe there will be more reforms. These reforms clear the way for more individual rights and freedoms. A new dress code in public is also an important step forward,” one local resident told Euronews.