After a conference entitled "Turkey is Looking for its Peace", which took in place in Ankara in January this year, the formation of a "Turkey Peace Parliament" was planned.
This Peace Parliament has now been formed: on Peace Day (1 September), it met in Ankara for the first time.
The first session of the parliament began with a commemoration of murdered journalist Hrant Dink and former MP Orhan Dogan, who died recently.
"Shared will of Turkish pacifists"
The parliament has described its aims as follows:
"The Turkey Peace Parliament reflects the shared will of Turkish pacifists. The individuals who make up this parliament are part of a structure which is independent of political thought and outside of any organisations they may be members of. Decisions will be made according to general leanings, there will be no voting. Individual opinions do not bind the parliament. Units which are considered necessary will be formed within and outside of the parliament. In their formation, expertise and interest are important. The parliament will apply the principles of democracy in its actions, work and relations with society."
AKP has not brought social peace or solution to Kurdish question
Three of the conveners of the Peace Parliament spoke to bianet.
Yavüz Önen, the president of the Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), Orhan Miroglu, a leader in the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and Prof. Dr. Büsra Ersanli criticised the fact that the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) approach to social peace and the Kurdish question has not gone beyond the conventional discourse on "security".
Government ignores Kurdish question
Referring to the AKP's newly announced government programme, Önen said: "This is a programme which ignores Turkey's most important problem, the Kurdish issue, pretending it is not there. This programme is doomed to faillure. This is not a political will which will put an end to the war in Turkey, however it is termed."
In the new programme of Turkey's sixtieth government, the term "human rights" is used four times, and "basic rights and freedoms" six times. The term "peace" is used in the context of Iraq, regional peace, global peace and social peace related to justice. There is also the claim that "we will continue the mobilisation of services in areas such as education, health, justice, roads and drinking water which we started in the whole of the country, and first and foremost in our eastern and southeastern regions."
Miroglu commented, "It is possible to read numerous headings related to democratic process in the Turkish Peace Parliament programme. I wish we could see a tenth of that in the government programme. But it is not there."
Ersanli: Government needs to be monitored
Ersanli pointed out that social peace was related to social justice, labour, unemployment, minority rights, the environment, education, and women and youth issues.
"Those who are critical, who are left-wing, who are pacifist, continuously need to criticise and monitor the government. Meaningful pressure and a proper left-wing movement have the potential to effect change."
Steps: Mothertongue education and freedom of expression
For Ersanli, a key issue in the solution to the Kurdish question is education in the mother tongue. Önen, on the other hand, considers the freedom of expression an important step towards a solution: "We must think of freedom of expression as going hand in hand with the freedom to organise and have political rights. There are still political prohibitions and discrimination within the state, and they are not changed. Political parties sit back and watch discrimination. Freedom of expression on its own is not enough."
Önen further called on the AKP government to "listen to the voices of civil society".
"We want the AKP to develop dialogue on human rights as a serious agenda. We must be able to explain, and the government must listen."
According to Miroglu, the AKP has up to now "pretended to be doing something but has done nothing". There is a great political emptiness which needs to be filled. "This will not work with only the DTP. We need a more comprehensive political organisation which brings together democrats, pacifists, left-wing and socialist powers." (TK/AG)