About 10,000 people gathered in Istanbul's district of Kadıköy on yesterday's World Peace Day (1 September). They demanded a democratic and libertarian solution to the Kurdish question and requested the government to accept PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan as an equal negotiation partner.
The majority of people were members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). DTP's Istanbul MP Sebahat Tuncel said in her speech: "We want the government to take the Kurdish Initiative seriously and not waste this opportunity. They should take a concrete and positive step until 1 October. In order to be able to talk about a real initiative, the government has to stop their military operations. The constitution has to be amended".
No peace while military operations continue
Among the numerous groups participating in the meeting there were political parties as well as trade unions, trade chambers, magazine groups and non-governmental organizations. During the march to the meeting place Kurdish and Turkish slogans were shouted and revolutionary marches were chanted.
The meeting started at 15.00 hrs with a minute of silence for the "martyrs of the revolution".
After the opening speech of Organization Committee Head Dursun Yıldız, KESK Istanbul Branches Platform current spokeswoman Hatun İldemir took the floor, followed by a representative of the Mothers for Peace Initiative.
After the speech of writer Gerger, Tuncel took over the microphone, saying that the PKK has prolonged their decision to remain inactive until after the Ramadan Holiday.
Tuncel continued: "From Interior Minister Beşir Atalay's explanations we understand that the government still sees the Kurdish question as a problem of security and terror. We do not agree with that. This is a problem for the freedom of the Kurdish people. If the prime minister does not count the mothers' tears for an ideology, he must not send a mother's child from Yozgat after a mother's child from Hakkarili".
Criticizing CHP's separatist attitude
Tuncel also criticized the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP), especially CHP general chair Deniz Baykal who said: "Education in the mother tongue divides the country." Tuncel responded saying that what is actually dividing the country is this kind of separatist and negative attitude.
Sami Evren, General Chair of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK), claimed: "We have to solve the Kurdish question through democratic means. During this process Öcalan has to be accepted as an equal negotiation partner".
The meeting ended with performances by the 'Vardiya' Music Group, Yasemin Göksu and musicians from the Mesopotamian Culture Center (MKM).
Some of the slogans heard in the Peace Meeting:
"No to war, peace now.", "PKK is the people, the people is here.", "The peace envoy is on İrmalı", "Turks, Kurds, Armenians, long live the people's brothehood", "Budget for education, not for war", "Freedom to Kurds for democracy", "Freedom for Öcalan", "Shut up, shut up, İlker Başbuğ shut up", "Let the weapons fall silent, let's talk peace".
Some of the groups participating in the meeting:
Feminists, Women for Peace Initiative, Socialist Labor Movement (SEH), Democratic Society Party (DTP), Religion Intellectuals Aid and Solidarity Association, Socially Deprived Socialist Platform (ESP), Human Rights Association (İHD), KESK Istanbul Branches Platform, Eğitim-Sen Istanbul Branch, United Metal Work Syndicate, Istanbul Doctor's Chamber, Turkish Doctors' Union, Foundation for People Who Lost Their Relatives, Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), Labor Party (EMEP), United Movement for Democracy, community centers, Diyarbakır People Culture-Solidarity Foundation, Jineps Newspaper employees, Socialist Democracy Party (SDP), Socialist Solidarity Platform (SODAP), Socialist Party, Revolutionary Socialist Worker's Party (DSİP), Strife Association, Revolutionary Worker's Committee, Socialist 'Ürün' (product) Foundation, Independent Revolutionary Class Platform (BDSP), Nor Zartonk and the Greens. (BÇ/VK)
* Deniz Pınar Konuk contributed to this news item.