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Turkey after the Referendum: real challenges will still need to be addressed

Press Release

Noting the results of Sunday's referendum, Peace in Kurdistan reiterates its position that Turkey's democratization ultimately requires a completely new, civilian constitution and, perhaps even more importantly, a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue. Talk of genuine democracy in Turkey will not be possible until these two fundamental requirements are met.

Turkey's current constitution was drafted and its ratification was rammed through by the repressive military junta that came to power through a military coup on September 12, 1980. As Human Rights Watch has noted, "Numerous provisions of the current [Turkish] constitution restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a new constitution must be a priority." The current 'coup constitution,' as it is widely known, also contains an ethnic definition of citizenship that defines all citizens of Turkey as ethnic Turks. This has provided a legal foundation for unjust ethnic discrimination and repression of Kurds and other non-Turkish peoples. Peace in Kurdistan believes that a new constitution must include a civic and non-ethnic definition of citizenship that upholds the rights of all communities, including the Kurds.

For true democracy to take hold, other Turkish laws, especially the Anti-Terror Law and Law of 2006, which have been extensively criticized by international human rights organizations, must be abolished, as should the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on "insulting Turkishness". These provisions provide a legal framework for the criminalization of peaceful, non-violent dissent, and are frequently used to facilitate state repression of journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists.

Peace in Kurdistan reiterates its position that the Turkish government's refusal to support a peaceful, democratic, negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue is at the heart of the country's ongoing crisis of democracy and human rights. Turkey will not know peace as long as it refuses to recognize the basic democratic rights of its citizens. The Turkish state has refused to recognized the PKK's numerous unilateral ceasefires and proposals for a negotiated solution, and has engaged in mass arrests of Kurdish political activists even while claiming it is searching for a negotiated settlement.

We call on the Turkish government to immediately cease its military and political operations against the Kurdish political movement and to urgently begin a comprehensive conflict resolution process involving all relevant political actors, including the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, and the BDP. The EU and US can contribute to peace efforts by ending their criminalization of the Kurdish movement and by halting arms shipments to Turkey. We call on people of conscience everywhere to stand with the Kurds as they come under attack from all directions.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign: Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish question

Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Alyn Smith MEP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Edward Albee, Mark Thomas, Bairbre de Brún MEP