Did Erdogan promise Kurdish autonomy?

People take part in a gathering to celebrate Nowruz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year in Istanbul, March 23, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal)
Abdullah Ocalan’s Nowruz message was read to the crowd at Diyarbakir, but for some reason, it did not generate the interest it deserved in Turkey. Ocalan’s Nowruz message this year was not much different than last year's. There was no call for anything concrete, apart from classical remarks.

For example, there was no call directed at the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ocalan did not repeat his call for the PKK to give up its arms and complete its withdrawal from Turkey.
SummaryPrint Recently released voice recordings of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan suggest that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised the Kurds autonomy, and the PKK may be allying with the AKP in the current elections.
Our intelligence service, the MIT, and pro-government newspapers are saying the PKK is going to give up its arms. Never mind giving up arms, it is distributing weapons to the people. It did not leave Turkey. Why didn’t Ocalan call on the PKK to leave Turkey?

Let me say it bluntly: The government has promised autonomy to the PKK. The PKK will return with its guns and take control of the region from our military and police. Sooner or later this is going to happen. Indicators of this are already emerging.
Twitter relayed the voice recordings of Ocalan and the PKK/BDP (the Peace and Democracy Party) quarters. In those recordings, Aysel Tugluk is heard saying they have received the promise of autonomy from the government and that this was confirmed by Deputy Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Bulent Arinc.

From Ocalan’s recording we learn more advanced matters: “We are treating each issue comprehensively. For example, can a deputy undersecretary of the MIT be from the Kurdish movement [PKK]? For example, can a village security unit be duly elected? Or traffic police, municipal police, night guards etc. who are attached to local administrations? Why shouldn’t there be a Kurdish unit in the Turkish Armed Forces? I debated all this with the state. We have achieved a certain level of understanding. But we have to prepare the public for this.”
“We are at a period when there should practical progress. If necessary, 50 laws will be enacted. The PKK will be legitimized benefiting from laws. Our goal is to terminate this illegal status. The press gets wrong information. They said Ocalan has given up on independence, federation, autonomy. I didn’t give up on anything … We are at the most suitable juncture to put independence into practice.”
Ocalan and the AKP alliance has progressed so much that they are talking of supporting each other in the upcoming elections. For example, if the AKP wins, Kurds will want 10,000 posts in the municipality. This is exactly what Ocalan says: “Elections can be an alliance. If we reach an agreement with the AKP, we can do it with them. CHP-MHP [Republican People's Party and Nationalist Action Party] are fascists who have always tried to physically eliminate the Kurds. In metropolitan areas, whoever we vote for will win. There can be multi-faceted bargains. For example, the Istanbul municipality should give us 10,000 posts … We will support them in metropolitan areas. Everything is mutual …”
Of course, the AKP can enter into an alliance with any party. It can enter into an alliance with the BDP or the HDP (People's Democracy Party), both close to the PKK. As far as we can see, in addition what Ocalan says, in Urfa, Istanbul and Mersin agreements were reached between the AKP and parties close to the PKK. They scratch each other’s back. I have no objection to this.
But when it comes to autonomy or changing the system of the country, I have objections to their method. If autonomy is going to be declared in a country, if the constitution is to be amended, if the system is going to changed — and it should be — these can’t be done by keeping them secret from the people, with secret bargains and fancy political footwork.
I am not one of those who say, “It doesn’t matter who dies as long as the country lives.” But I am also against dividing the country by putting a gun to people’s heads.
If people are willing to be divided without any threats, of their own free will, or if they want an autonomous structure, they can do it.
The prerequisite of all this is the removal of the shadow of the PKK guns from the people’s heads. PKK guns should not be a threat to people. There should be a referendum. If Kurds want autonomy, so be it, or if they want independence let them be independent.
But the government and the PKK are doing exactly the opposite. They have reduced the will of the people to the will of two leaders who will decide on our behalf. Moreover, they are doing this secretly.
Ocalan and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have sat down and agreed to change the system and the fate of the country. Who authorized them to do it? If Erdogan received 50% of the votes, they were not cast for him to make a deal with Ocalan and divide the country.

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