The Closing of Turkey’s Kurdish Opening

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

During the summer and fall of 2009, the continuing and often violent Kurdish problem in Turkey seemed on the verge of a solution when the ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi [Justice and Development Party] or AK Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul announced a Kurdish Opening or Initiative (aka as the Democratic Opening/Initiative). Gul declared, “the biggest problem of Turkey is the Kurdish question” and that “there is an opportunity [to solve it] and it should not be missed.” Erdogan asked, “If Turkey had not spent its energy, budget, peace and young people on [combating] terrorism, if Turkey had not spent the last 25 years in conflict, where would we be today?” Even the insurgent Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan (PKK) or Kurdistan Workers Party, still led ultimately by its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, itself briefly took Turkey’s Kurdish Opening seriously. For a fleeting moment, optimism ran rampant. What happened?
During the summer and fall of 2009, the continuing and often violent Kurdish problem in Turkey seemed on the verge of a solution when the ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi [Justice and Development Party] or AK Party (AKP) government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul announced a Kurdish Opening or Initiative (aka as the Democratic Opening/Initiative).[1]; Gul declared, “the biggest problem of Turkey is the Kurdish question” and that “there is an opportunity [to solve it] and it should not be missed.”[2] Erdogan asked, “If Turkey had not spent its energy, budget, peace and young people on [combating] terrorism, if Turkey had not spent the last 25 years in conflict, where would we be today?”[3] Even the insurgent Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan (PKK) or Kurdistan Workers Party, still led ultimately by its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, itself briefly took Turkey’s Kurdish Opening seriously.[4] For a fleeting moment, optimism ran rampant. What happened?


It soon became evident that the AK Party had not thought its Kurdish Opening out very well and then proved rather inept in trying to implement it. Specific proposals were lacking. Furthermore, despite AK Party appeals to support its Kurdish Opening, all three of the parliamentary opposition parties declined. Indeed, the CHP (Kemalists or Nationalists) accused the AK Party of “separatism, cowing to the goals of the terrorist PKK, violating the constitution, causing fratricide and/or ethnic polarization between Kurds and Turks, being an agent of foreign states, and even betraying the country.”[5] The MHP (Ultra Turkish Nationalists) “declared AKP to be dangerous and accused it of treason and weakness.”[6] The AK Party even failed to engage the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) because the DTP declined to condemn the PKK, as the AK Party government had demanded.[7] Erdogan too began to fear that any perceived concessions to the Kurds would hurt his Turkish nationalist base and future presidential hopes.  
The PKK’s “peace group” gambit on 18 October 2009 to return home to Turkey thirty-four PKK members from northern Iraq also backfired badly when huge welcoming receptions met these Kurdish expatriates at the Habur Border Crossing with Turkey and later in Diyarbakir. These celebrations were broadcast throughout Turkey provoking responses from even moderate Turks who perceived the affair to be some sort of PKK victory parade. The peace group affair seemed to prove that the government had not thought out the implications of its Kurdish Opening and could not manage its implementation let alone its consequences.
Then on 11 December 2009 the Constitutional Court, after mulling over the issue for more than two years, suddenly banned the pro-Kurdish DTP because of its close association with the PKK. Although the Baris ve Demokrasi Partisi or Peace and Democracy Party (PDP) quickly took the DTP’s place, the state-ordered banning of the DTP could not have come at a worse time and put the kiss of death to the Kurdish Initiative. In addition, the Turkish government has arrested more than 1,000 BDP and other Kurdish notables for their supposed support of the PKK—yet another blow to the Kurdish Opening.[8] Soon the entire country was ablaze from the fury that had arisen, and the Kurdish Opening seemed closed. The mountain had not even given birth to a mouse, and the entire Kurdish question seemed to have been set back to square one.[9]
In May 2010, the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), an arm of the PKK, charged that since April 2009, the Turkish government has arrested more than 1500 politicians, human rights advocates, writers, artisans, and leaders of civil society organizations. In addition, the government took 4000 children to court and had 400 of them imprisoned for participating in demonstrations. Osman Baydemir, the popular ethnic Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir, was scheduled to go to court on charges of “membership in a terror organization,” while Muharrem Erbey, the vice chairman of Turkey’s largest human rights organization the Human Rights Association (IHD), had already been imprisoned. The Turkish government had deported Jess Hess, an American freelance journalist, for reporting critically on human rights abuses against the Kurds.[10]

Renewed Hope

However, TESEV, a Turkish think tank, soon stepped forward with new recommendations:[11]
  1. The references to Turkish identity and Turkishness in many laws and the Turkish constitution do not comply with the multi-ethnic structure of Turkish society. These constitutional references should be changed despite the dictum in Article 4 of the current constitution that they “cannot be changed; changing them cannot even be suggested.”
  2. The Turkish government needs to alter laws regarding political parties and the election of deputies, as they are “incompatible with the principles of democracy and the state of law.”
  3. The government also needs to delete Article 301 of the Turkish Penal law on “insulting Turkishness,” and Article 318 [ES1] regarding criticism of the military, which prevents freedom of speech in Turkey.
  4. The Anti-Terror Law (TMY) protects the security of the state at the expense of freedom and security of individuals. The government should also revise this law.
  5. The government should revise the education law because it presently reflects “the ideological and monist education understanding of the state.”
  6. The law on provincial governance has been the basis of changing the Kurdish names of many locations. In addition, the laws on surnames and the alphabet prevent Kurds from using their language freely.
The AK Party government, of course, supposedly had been considering writing a new, more democratic constitution for Turkey for many years. The success of its referendum on several constitutional amendments held on 12 September 2010 reinvigorated this process.[12] In addition, several Turkish political parties broached the idea of forming a Parliamentary Truth Commission to investigate not only the past mistakes of the Turkish state, but also those of the PKK. Such a process might help understand the past and resolve future problems as has already occurred in South Africa. The government should also lower the current 10 percent electoral threshold—that makes it necessary for a party to win at least 10 percent of the total national vote to receive any representation in the parliament—so that it is in line with current EU standards.[13] In addition, the government should accept mother-tongue education and usage in courts, and drop its prosecution of Kurdish politicians, lawyers, and civil-society leaders—the so-called Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials mentioned above—that were continuing into 2012.
One main problem now of course was with whom to negotiate. Although even Turkish observers recognized that “Ocalan and the PKK have legitimacy among a considerable portion of the Kurds despite all the state’s efforts to discredit them,” it would be difficult for the state formally and openly to negotiate with them, given how the state had always defined them as mere terrorists.[14] Nevertheless, secretive talks with Ocalan were already occurring.[15] At the same time, other high-ranking PKK leaders also were talking with Turkish intelligence officials from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in Oslo.[16] Although these secretive negotiations terminated following the Turkish elections on 12 June 2011 and the renewal of violence, they aroused considerable optimism.

Ocalan’s Proposals

Although Turkish authorities confiscated Ocalan’s 160-page roadmap for solving the Kurdish problem in August 2009 before Ocalan submitted the roadmap, its contents are known based on his earlier testimony at his trial for treason in 1999 and subsequent statements over the years. [17] In essence, the imprisoned PKK leader has proposed a democratization and decentralization of the Turkish state into what he has termed at various times a democratic republic, democratic confederalism, democratic nation, or democratic homeland. Such autonomy and decentralization would be based on the guidelines already listed in the European Charter of Local Self-Government adopted in 1985 and presently ratified by forty-one states including Turkey—with numerous important conditions, however—and the European Charter of Regional Self-Government, which is still only in draft form. Thus, one might actually argue that these BDP proposals would be bringing Turkey into conformity with EU guidelines by giving the Kurds local self government. Moreover, one might also argue that the millet system of the former Ottoman Empire offered an historical model for local autonomy or proto federalism in Turkey.
However, the AK Party was appalled when the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK)—a new non-governmental organization which is close to the PKK and BDP—met in Diyarbakir in mid-December 2010 and outlined its solution for democratic autonomy that envisaged Kurdish as a second official language, a separate flag, and a Marxist-style organizational model for Kurdish society. The DTK’s draft also broached the vague idea of “self-defense forces” that would be used not only against external forces but also against the subjects of the so-called democratic autonomy initiative who were not participating in what was called the “struggle.”[18]
The Turkish Republic created by Kemal Ataturk in 1923 has always been a strongly centralized state. Radical decentralization as proposed by the PKK and BDP goes against this strong mindset and thus would be most problematic. On the other hand, many states such as Britain and France, famous for their centralized unitary structure, have recently rolled back centuries of constitutional forms in favor of what they saw as necessary decentralization. Far from leading to their breakup as states, this decentralization has satisfied local particularisms and checked possible demands for future independence. Thus, far from threatening its national unity, some Turkish decentralization might help preserve it.
However, given that more than half of Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish population does not even live in its historic southeastern Anatolian homeland but is scattered throughout the country—especially in such cities as Istanbul—as well as the fact that a sizeable number of Turkey’s ethnic Kurds have mostly assimilated into a larger Turkish civic identity, radical decentralization that would be incompatible with modern Turkey’s heritage may not be necessary. However, the Turkish state does need to begin seriously talking with the most important, genuine representatives of its disaffected Kurdish minority. This, of course, means the PKK.
However, if Turkey is going to resume negotiating with Ocalan and the PKK, the time must surely come for Turkey to cease terming the PKK a terrorist organization and instead challenge it to negotiate peacefully. The terrorism appellation distorts the discussion and, not only prevents the two main parties to the problem from fully negotiating with each other, but also impairs the European Union from playing a stronger role in achieving peace. Moreover, in the case of the United States, its designation of the PKK as terrorist prevents its citizens from even advising the PKK to opt for peace, as illustrated by the case of retired U.S. administrative judge Ralph Fertig.[19] 

Renewed Problems

Although the AKP won practically 50 percent of the popular vote or 326 seats while the BDP and its allies won a record 36 seats in the parliamentary elections held on 12 June 2011, new problems soon arose and hopes for a renewed and more successful Kurdish Opening quickly foundered. [20] Shortly after the Turkish state had officially announced the election results, the newly elected BDP MPs began to boycott parliament in protest over the jailing of five of their elected colleagues, while a sixth (the well-known Hatip Dicle) was stripped of his seat for “terrorism” offenses.[21] The Turkish judiciary declined to free any of the six BDP politicians, as well as the numerous other local KCK members still imprisoned for reputed links to the PKK. Newly elected Prime Minister Erdogan seemingly turned his back on an earlier promise to seek consensus on the drafting of a new constitution that would help solve the Kurdish problem, broke off contact with the BDP, and continued to declare that the Kurdish problem had been solved and only a PKK problem remained. How could the new AKP government begin to solve the Kurdish problem when it refused to deal with its main interlocutor?[22]
Then on 14 July 2011 the DTK, the umbrella pro-Kurdish NGO mentioned above, proclaimed “democratic autonomy,” a declaration that seemed wildly premature and overblown to many observers and which infuriated Turkish officialdom. Amidst mutual accusations concerning who was initiating the renewed violence and warlike rhetoric, the Turkish military launched, on 17 August 2011, several days of cross-border attacks on reputed PKK targets in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains. [23] The Turkish government claimed to have killed 100 Kurdish rebels, while the PKK maintained that it had lost only three fighters, and that in addition the Turkish military killed seven local Iraqi Kurdish civilians.[24]
Violence continued on 19 June 2012 when the PKK attacked Diglica, a Turkish outpost near the Iraqi frontier, and killed eight soldiers while wounding another sixteen.[25] The PKK attacked the same outpost five years earlier, so the latest strike seemed to illustrate the lack of Turkish progress in controlling the violence, which many saw as a result of the state’s failure to negotiate with the PKK.
Others argued, however, that the inherent ethnic Turkish inability to accept the fact that Turkey should be considered a multi-ethnic state in which the Kurds have similar constitutional rights as co-stakeholders with the Turks was the ultimate problem. Moreover, during 2011 and 2012, the Turkish state began rounding up more leading intellectuals for alleged affiliations with the KCK/PKK,[26] whose proposals for democratic autonomy seem to suggest an alternative government. Many of those arrested were affiliated with the BDP. 
Those arrested included a well-known publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, who has been a keyfigure in human rights advocacy in Turkey for decades and suffered from political repression under successive governments for his efforts.  Zarakolu is presently in ill health, and there is the danger that imprisonment will threaten his life.[27]  Also among those arrested was Busra Ersanli, a political scientist whose original work on early Turkish nationalism continues to be consulted by scholars throughout the world. Even more recently, the Turkish state on 24 May 2012 once again sentenced Leyla Zana, the famous female Kurdish leader and BDP member of parliament, to prison for “spreading propaganda” on behalf of the PKK. The charges concerned nine speeches she had made over the years during which she had argued for recognition of the Kurdish identity, called Ocalan a Kurdish leader, and urged the reopening of peace negotiations between Turkey and the PKK. Previously in 1994, the Turkish state had stripped Zana of her membership in parliament and imprisoned her for ten years on similar charges. Such Turkish actions reminded one of what the French used to say about the Bourbons: “They learned nothing and they forgot nothing.” However, for the time being Zana remained free given her current parliamentary immunity.[28]
These arrests point to serious problems.  First, there is the nature of the crimes, which allege no violence. Mere “association” is enough for the Turkish state to count one as a terrorist.  In addition, the connections are tenuous. As Human Rights Watch has noted, these arrests seem less aimed at addressing terror than on attacking “legal pro-Kurdish political organizations.”[29]  Second, the arrests come at a time when Turkey is planning to develop a new constitution.  The silencing of pro-Kurdish voices as constitutional debates go forward is counterproductive for Turkey’s future.  Finally, there is the way suspects are treated. Virtually all are subject to pre-trial detentions, effectively denying them freedom without any proof that they have committed a crime. Although precise figures are unavailable, Human Rights Watch has declared that several thousand are currently on trial and another 605 in pre-trial detention on KCK/PKK-related charges.[30]


What is going on in Turkey today appears to be an attempt to stifle Kurdish voices and impose a unilateral Turkish solution to fundamental issues of security and the future of the country. The KCK/PKK arrests in particular look less like a war on terror and more like one on dissent. Furthermore, the Turkish government’s announcement in June 2012 about initiating elective Kurdish language classes and the opposition CHP’s announced willingness to discuss the Kurdish problem with the government do not impress disaffected Kurds. [31] The Turkish state supposedly made private Kurdish language classes legal several years ago, and why should the CHP not discuss the Kurdish problem?
More importantly, however, still lacking is the willingness to negotiate genuinely with the PKK. Unilateral Turkish attempts to solve the Kurdish problem with minor unsatisfactory gestures while ignoring or even trying to eliminate the other side (the PKK) will not work. Although Ankara’s and Washington’s policy communities may be impressed by these supposedly new Turkish gestures, their approval amounts to little more than wishful group think and is not going to solve the Kurdish problem. Thus, after thirty years of failed efforts, we remain “on a darkling plain, Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.”[32] So, why not consider another poet who advised: “Come, my friends, Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”[33] In other words, until the Turkish government truly accepts the PKK as a legitimate negotiating partner—along the lines of what Britain successfully did with Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the 1990s—it is doubtful whether the Turkish government and AKP can reach a political solution to this continuing crisis.

Author’s Bio

Michael M. Gunter is a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University and a graduate of the School of International Affairs/Columbia University, 1966. Professor Gunter is the Secretary-General of the Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), an NGO that lobbies the EU Parliament in Brussels to admit Turkey into the EU as a way to help solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey.


[1] For recent analyses of the Kurdish problem in Turkey, see Mustafa Cosar Unal, Counterterrorism in Turkey: Policy Choices and Policy Effects toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (London and New York: Routledge, 2012) and Cengiz Gunes, The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey: From Protest to Resistance (London and New York: Routledge, 2012). Also see Marlies Casier and Joost Jongerden, eds., Nationalisms and Politics in Turkey: Political Islam, Kemalism and the Kurdish Issue (London and New York: Routledge, 2011); Michael M. Gunter, The Kurds Ascending: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey (2nd ed.; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence (New York: New York University Press, 2007); Robert Olson, Blood, Beliefs and Ballots: The Management of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey, 2007-2009 (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2009); and Kerim Yildiz and Susan Breau, The Kurdish Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and Post-Conflict Mechanisms (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), among others.
In addition, see the proceedings of the 7th international conference of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), “The Road to Peace: Facing the Challenge,” 17-18 November 2010, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, see, accessed on 15 July 2012. The EUTCC held its 8th annual conference “The Quest for Democracy in Turkey—Universal Rights and Kurdish Self-Determination and the Struggles over the New Constitution,” EU Parliament, Brussels, Belgium on 7-8 December 2011. However, these proceedings have not yet been made available.
For recent scholarly work on the AK Party (AKP), see Umit Cizre, ed., Secular and Islamic Politics in Turkey: The Making of the Justice and Development Party (London: Routledge, 2007); William Hale and Ergun Ozbudun, Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the AKP (New York: Routledge, 2010); Banu Eligur, The Mobilization of Political Islam in Turkey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Arda Can Kumbaracibasi, Turkish Politics and the Rise of the AKP: Dilemmas of Institutionalization and Leadership Strategy (New York: Routledge, 2009); and M. Hakan Yavuz, Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). Also see Michael M. Gunter and M. Hakan Yavuz, “Turkish Paradox: Progressive Islamists versus Reactionary Secularists,” Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies 16 (Fall 2007), pp. 289-301.
[2] Cited in “Gul: Kurdish Problem is the Most Important Problem of Turkey,” Today’s Zaman, 11 May 2009. Http:// . . , accessed 4 June 2012.
[3] Cited in Today’s Zaman, 12 August 2009. Also see Marlies Casier, Joost Jongerden, and Nic Walker, “Fruitless Attempts? The Kurdish Initiative and Containment of the Kurdish Movement in Turkey,” New Perspectives on Turkey No. 44 (Spring 2011), pp. 103-127.
[4] Author’s contacts with Kurdish sources in Europe and the Middle East. Also see Cengiz Candar, “The Kurdish Question: The Reasons and Fortunes of the ‘Opening,’” Insight Turkey 11 (Fall 2009), pp. 13-19.
[5] Hurriyet, issues of 18 November 2009; 2 December  2009; 9 December 2009; and 14 December 2009; as cited in Menderes Cinar, “The Militarization of Secular Opposition in Turkey,” Insight Turkey 12 (Spring 2010), p. 119. Also see E. Fuat Keyman, “The CHP and the ‘Democratic Opening’: Reactions to AK Party’s Electoral Hegemony,” Insight Turkey 12 (Spring 2010), pp. 91-108.
[6] Odul Celep, “Turkey’s Radical Right and the Kurdish Issue: The MHP’s Reaction to the ‘Democratic Opening,’” Insight Turkey 12 (Spring 2010), p. 136.
[7] Rusen Cakir, “Kurdish Political Movement and the ‘Democratic Opening,’” Insight Turkey 12 (Spring 2010), p. 185.
[8] Actually, despite the government’s Kurdish Opening, arrests of Kurdish politicians and notables associated with the Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) or Kurdistan Communities Union, an umbrella PKK organization supposedly acting as the urban arm of the PKK, had been occurring since 14 April 2009 in apparent retaliation for the DTP local election victories at the end of March 2009. These DTP gains were largely at the expense of the AK Party.
[9] For further background, see Marlies Casier, Andy Hilton, and Joost Jongerden, “‘Road Maps’ and Roadblocks in Turkey’s Southeast,” Middle East Report Online,, October 30, 2009. The reference to not even a mouse was made by now banned DTP leader Ahmet Turk. Ibid., p. 6.
[10] “Resolution of the Tenth General Assembly Meeting of the Kurdistan National Congress KNK,” Brussels, Belgium, 24 May 2010.
[11] The following suggestions were taken from Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV [Delek Kurban and Yilmaz Ensaroglu]), Towards a Solution to the Kurdish Question: Constitutional and Legal Recommendations (Istanbul: TESEV, 2010).
[12] These amendments barred gender discrimination, bolstered civil liberties, made it possible to prosecute the generals who had led the military coup in 1980, and provided for a major overhaul of the judiciary, among other items. For background, see SETA/ Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, “Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum of 2010 and Insights for the General Elections of 2011,” Report No. 5, February 2011.
[13] There are two different ways to amend the current Turkish Constitution: 1) Two-thirds of parliament (367 out of the 550 members) vote for the amendment, or 2) Three-fifths of parliament (330 out of the 550 members) vote for the amendment and then the Turkish electorate approves the amendment in a national referendum. The problem for AK Party’s proposed amendments is that the AK Party only has 326 seats in the current parliament, so it needs the support of some other Turkish parties.
[14] Cakir, “Kurdish Political Movement,” p. 185.
[15] Lale Kemal, “Turkey’s Paradigm Shift on Kurdish Question and KCK Trial,” Today’s Zaman, 21 October 2010, which refers to “state contacts with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, on supposedly broader issues,” Http:///…, accessed November 26, 2010; and Hemin Khoshnaw, “Mediator Confirms Turkey Is Negotiating with Ocalan,” Rudaw, August 10, 2011. Http://, accessed 12 August 2011. More recently, see Hemin Khoshnaw, “North Kurdistan (Turkey): Secret Talks Reported between Turkey and Imprisoned PKK Leader,” Rudaw, 11 July 2012. Http:// . . , accessed 11 July 2012. This latter article states that “the English are mediating between the PKK and MIT [Turkish National Intelligence Organization],” and also refers to the intermediary roles of Leyla Zana (see below) and Ilhami Isik (Balikci).
[16] For background, see Jake Hess, “The AKP’s ‘New Kurdish Strategy’ is Nothing of the Sort: An Interview with Selahattin Demirtas [co-president of the BDP],” Middle East Research and Information Project, May 2, 2012. Http:// . . . , accessed 3 May 2012.
[17] See, for example, Abdullah Ocalan, Declaration on the Democratic Solution of the Kurdish Question (London: Mesopotamian Publishers, 1999); Abdullah Ocalan, Prison Writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century, trans. and edited by Klaus Happel (London: Transmedia Publishing Ltd., 2011); and Abdullah Ocalan, Prison Writings III: The Road Map to Negotiations, trans. by Havin Guneser (Cologne, Germany: International Initiative Edition, 2012). Also seeEmre Uslu, “PKK’s Strategy and the European Charter of Local Self-Government,” Today’s Zaman, 28 June 2010, Http://…, accessed 26 November 2010.
[18] Ayse Karabat, “Kurds Expect Gul’s Diyarbakir Visit to Ease Recent Tension,” Today’s Zaman, 29 December 2010. Http:// . . , accessed 30 December 2010.
[19] Adam Liptak, “Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror,” New York Times, 21 June 2010. Judge Fertig ran afoul of current U.S. laws on terrorism because he advised the PKK to disarm and use peaceful means to achieve its political goals. However in June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a vote of six to three that national security trumped Fertig’s first amendment rights of free speech and made him liable under provisions of the USA Patriot Act for giving illegal “material support” to terrorists.
[20] Ross Wilson, “Turkish Election: An AKP Victory with Limits,” New Atlanticist: Policy and Analysis Blog, 13 June 2011. Http://, accessed 2 September 2011; “Kurds Make Big Gains in Turkish Election,” Today’s Zaman, 13 June 2011. Http:// . . . , accessed 3 September 2011.
[21] Habib Guler, “Parliament-Boycotting BDP Plans to Take Oath in October,” Today’s Zaman, 21 August 2011. Http:// . . ., accessed 3 September 2011; “Prominent Kurdish Politician Stripped of Parliamentary Seat in Turkey,” Kurd Net, 23 June  2011. Http://, accessed 3 September 2011.
[22] Robert Tait, “Turkey’s Military Strikes Could Herald Closure for Kurdish Opening,” RFE/RL, 24 August 2011.
[23] “Turkey Prepares for Ground Assault on Kurdish Rebels in Iraq,” Deutsche Welle, 24 August  2011. Http://,,15342116,00.html, accessed 29 August 2011. The PKK killed nearly 40 Turkish soldiers beginning in July 2011, claiming its attacks were in retaliation for earlier government special forces operations that had killed more than 20 rebels.
[24] Suzan Fraser, “Turkey Says It Killed 100 Kurdish Rebels in Iraq,” Associated Press, August 23, 2011. Http:// . . . , accessed 29 August 2011.
[25] Emre Uslu, “The Daglica Attack: What Does It Tell Us?” Today’s Zaman, 20 June 2012. Http:// . . . , accessed 16 July 2012.
[26] The following discussion and citations are taken from Howard Eissenstat, “A War on Dissent in Turkey,” Human Right Now. Http:// . . , 4 November 2011, accessed 13 November 2011.
[27] Zarakolu was suddenly released from prison in April 2012.
[28] Interestingly, Leyla Zana shortly afterwards declared that she had confidence in Erdogan’s ability to solve the Kurdish problem. “Leyla Zana Stands by Erdogan Remarks in Spite of BDP Reaction,” Today’s Zaman, 15 June 2012. Http:// . . , accessed 18 June 2012. On 30 June 2012 she actually met with the Turkish prime minister, an event that caused bitter debate within in the Kurdish community, but to this author seemed a positive step. “Zana Reveals Details of Erdogan Meeting,” Hurriyet Daily News, 1 July 2012. Http:// . . . , accessed 13 July 2012.
[29] Human Rights Watch, “Turkey Arrests Expose Flawed Justice System,” 1 November 2011. Http:// . . , accessed 13 November 2011.
[30] Ibid. Meral Danis Bestas, the current vice-chair of the BDP, told me on 16 May 2012 when I spoke with her through a translator in London that more than 6,000 had been detained by the Turkish authorities.
[31] “Kurdish Can Be Taught in Turkey’s Schools, Erdogan Says,” BBC News Europe, 12 June  2012. Http://, accessed 13 July 2012; Hermione Gee, “Turkish Party Leaders to Meet on New Kurdish Initiative,” Rudaw, 6 June 2012. Http://, accessed, 7 July 2012.
[32] Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach.”
[33] Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses.”