Since 2004 Abdullah Öcalan has been arguing that pro-Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) parties should open their doors to Turkish politicians and free themselves from the Kurdish question.
Öcalan argues that if Kurds cannot explain their problem to Turkish people, they will not be able to solve this problem. Thus, Öcalan argues, parties founded by pro-PKK people should be inclusive parties, open to leftist politicians as well.
In the most recent elections, Öcalan nominated a number of Turkish career politicians as independent candidates on behalf of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Yet Öcalan was not satisfied by the performance of the BDP and urged his lawyers to establish a new political party as an umbrella party to put Turkish socialists and Kurdish nationalist parties on the same political wavelength. With this party, Öcalan hopes to reach out to the Turkish community to explain the Kurdish question.
The realization of Öcalan's desire to establish such a party was delayed for two years, and its establishment was announced recently under the umbrella of the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK), an organization established back in November 2011. The aims of the organization were defined as bringing Turkish leftist groups under one umbrella and establishing a base for possible convergence with the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the Kurdish equivalent of the HDK.
Some of the founders of the DTK and the HDK, especially the Kurdish founders, are the same people, and it is a well-known fact that both the HDK and the DTK were founded under the direction of Öcalan.
To avoid further confusion one needs to look at the structure that Öcalan proposed for his followers to establish: The KCK is meant to serve as an umbrella organization for illegal groups, such as the PKK, the People's Defense Forces (HPG) and the Self Defense Forces. The DTK is meant to serve as a group that encompasses Kurdish organizations that are legally registered, such as the BDP and affiliated civil society groups. The HDK will be just like the DTK, encompassing legal organizations, but only Turkish ones, such as socialist organizations and a new planned political party.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) network is the umbrella organization for the illegal sub-organizations, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) armed wing, the HPG, also an armed group, the self-defense forces, the women forces, etc. The DTK is the umbrella organization that is planned to include the legal organizations, such as local NGOs -- even the Kurdish Hizbullah. The aim of the DTK is to absorb the Kurdish opposition so that there won't be any opposition groups to the PKK. The HDK is a new umbrella organization that was established to bring together the fractured Turkish leftist parties and organizations, and it aims to act as a vehicle for establishing a coalition with the Kurdish political parties to expand political issues into the Turkish political domain.
On May 7, Duran Kalkan, one of the founders and members of the PKK's leadership structure said the HDK needs to gear up after the socialists in Turkey demonstrated their strength at the May 1 labor day celebrations. Kalkan further argued that the HDK played a significant role in the socialist awakenings and should continue to play a historic role by analyzing recent developments in the right way and actively working to contribute to such developments. If the HDK works according to predetermined plans and harnesses the recent socialist awakening, it will be the most potent force in the near future.
Not surprisingly, a week after Kalkan's call for the HDK to make the most of the recent opportunity, the HDK announced that its congress has decided to establish a political party. The HDK announced that it has decided to establish a political party that could be the major opposition party against the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The new party will be the focal point for all social opposition forces and will be the voice of the social opposition groups. The party will be the base for the labor movements, the Kurdish freedom movement, oppressed minorities, feminist movements, human rights defenders, environmentalists, Alevi opposition, farmers, movements for poor people and people with disabilities.
It is a well-known fact that the leftists in Turkey have always made big promises and aimed to be inclusive when they establish new institutions. Thus, the big words that were listed in the declaration are not easy to achieve. However, the HDK must have the discipline of the PKK to play a critical role in reaching out to the fragmented Turkish leftist movements. If Öcalan's followers successfully convince the Turkish socialists to come under the HDK and operate under one banner, it would indeed change the dynamics of Kurdish politics. Yet it is not an easy task to achieve.