CHP leader candidate Özel vows to resolve Kurdish issue

Speaking in his party’s provincial congress in the southeastern Diyarbakır, Turkish main opposition CHP leader candidate Özgür Özel has stated that he “promises to resolve the Kurdish problem without making it a subject of political exploitation.”

Ardıl Batmaz / Gazete Duvar

The candidate for the Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leadership, Özgür Özel, on Oct. 6 “promised” to resolve the Kurdish issue should he get elected.

Speaking in the 38th Ordinary Congress of CHP’s Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate, Özel said he “acknowledges the Kurdish problem” which is against the Kurds' identity, language, self-expression, and that he was against all kinds of discrimination and injustice.

“We truly promise to resolve the Kurdish problem without making it a subject of political exploitation,” CHP parliamentary group leader Özgür Özel said.

Özel announced his candidacy for the party leadership for the general congress that is scheduled to be held on Nov. 4-5, as party’s current leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has yet announced his candidacy for re-election.

“We reject trustee democracy. We know that the votes cast by the people of Diyarbakır are equal and free votes, no matter which party they vote for, and we do not find it right to treat their representatives differently. I never embarrassed you in the parliament against Süleyman Soylu, Hulusi Akar and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. If you say 'You can manage this party' and give way to me, I'm in. Let's all walk together and bring our party to power. We will see good days, we will succeed together,” Özel said, criticizing the government’s practice of appointing trustee mayors and replacing pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) elected mayors over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Özel received a standing ovation from CHP members for minutes after his speech.

CHP Diyarbakır Lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu also spoke at the congress, saying his constituency “never left him alone.” 

Another CHP leader candidate Örsan Öymen, a philosophy professor, also took the stage and said precautions must be taken against the assimilation of the Kurdish language and culture. “Language is one of the most important elements of human culture. Fallacies were dominated for many years by saying 'There is no such language as Kurdish.' Kurdish language and Kurdish culture were ignored. This has now been broken to a significant extent, but the pressures continue, at least partially.”

Örsan Öymen

Between 2013 and 2015, the Turkish government and the PKK maintained a fragile ceasefire. Through the peace process, government and intelligence officials would meet with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on the İmralı Island, with HDP lawmakers acting as mediators and go-betweens, conveying messages to the PKK’s military leadership in Qandil Mountains. However, after two years, the peace process fell apart and the conflict resumed.

(English version by Alperen Şen)