Pro-Kurdish politician Zana: Time to divide Turkey into states
In a controversial speech likely to spark controversy, Leyla Zana, a former deputy for the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP), called for a new administrative system organized as states.
Zana, who was jailed in the past for links to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), said at an election rally in the far eastern province of Iğdır that a "Kurdistan federal state" should be established as part of a shift from the current centralized administration structure to a new one based on states.
"It is time for division of Turkey into states. Ankara, divide Turkey into states and establish the Kurdistan state," Zana was quoted as telling a crowd by the Anatolia news agency. She said this would be tantamount to taking a step that Turkey failed to take during the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. She said such a shift in the administrative system would not mean "division of the country," claiming on the contrary that it would strengthen unity and co-existence.
The Kurdish politician, who is not standing in the upcoming polls on July 22, said a planned legislation on creating local administration centers should be implemented to "allow people govern themselves."
Claiming that Ankara failed to see what the Kurdish population of Turkey wants, Zana said Kurds shifted to a new policy that does not aim at cessation from Turkey following capture of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. "They said redrawing borders is not necessary anymore; peoples can live together in peace provided that the governing class appreciate this. We have tried to follow this policy for eight years. What have you done? Nothing. You have taken one step forward, followed by two steps back."
Zana also called for a general amnesty for the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The DTP, which is not standing in the upcoming elections and supports independent candidates instead as a way of overcoming the obstacle of a 10-percent election threshold, is frequently accused of maintaining organic links with the PKK.