Turkish gov’t erases traces of Kurdish peace process from official website

The Turkish government under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has removed online material related to its Kurdish peace process policy between 2009 and 2015.

The Under-Secretariat of Public Order and Security, an institution established to negotiate peace with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), removed the booklet entitled “Silent Revolution: Turkey’s Democratic Change and Transformation Inventory” from is publications section , and the special website with the same title has alse been taken down, Turkish newspaper Habertürk reported .

Online news outlet Ahval reported on Tuesday that an archived version of the website shows that the website was online as recently as June 2017, promoting the booklet in six languages. The Kurdish version of the booklet was labelled as the first Kurdish book published by the Turkish state, using the W, X and X letters, previously banned from official publications.

President Erdoğan wrote the foreword of the booklet, which had sections on “Changing the Security Paradigm,” “Civilian Oversight of Security,” “Protection and Improvement of Human Rights,” and “Judicial Reform.”

As part of the larger Kurdish-Turkish conflict, the PKK has fought a separatist war in Turkey’s southeast since the early 1980s, later changing its aims to demand equal rights and autonomy, rather than independence.

After tens of thousands of casualties from both parties and huge economic loss in the region for decades, Erdoğan, the Prime Minister at the time, initiated a process of talks between Turkey’s intelligence service and the PKK leadership in 2009.

The talks failed in July 2015 as relations between the two sides came under pressure due to the Syrian conflict and domestic politics. An intensified conflict ensued, causing hundreds of civilian deaths, forced migrations and the demolition of town centres in southeast Turkey.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians since 2015 summer. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 9 HDP deputies, including the party’s co-chairs, are behind bars on terror charges.

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