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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
November 19, 2012, Monday

Solution model in hunger strike crisis

Hundreds of Kurdish inmates ended a hunger strike in jails across Turkey on Sunday after the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, called on his supporters on Saturday to end their protest. This development was good news for the whole country, fuelling hopes that a deal had been struck which could revive talks to end a decades-old conflict.

Cengiz Çandar from Radikal says the fact that the 67-day hunger strike ended without any deaths is significant in the political sense as well as from a humanitarian one. If even one inmate had died, the conundrum of the Kurdish issue would have grown further and would have become harder to fix. More importantly, if inmates had died, they would have become “legendary heroes” for Kurds. According to Çandar, only two people could have ended the hunger strikes: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, by adopting a more sensitive attitude towards the issue, and Öcalan. With Öcalan's contribution to solving the issue, his authority and power over the Kurds as well as PKK terrorists and his potential to play a more effective role in solving the Kurdish issue have been revealed once again, the columnist asserts.

Meanwhile, some columnists see the process of ending the “hunger strike crisis” as an exemplary model of how the Kurdish issue can be resolved. One of the columnists, Hürriyet's Taha Akyol, suggests that there were three main factors behind the success of ending the hunger strike crisis. These are the state's flexible and pro-negotiating attitude, Öcalan's willingness to end the hunger strikes and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) contribution to it. Akyol asks why this same model cannot be applied to solve the country's troubling terrorist and Kurdish issues. After all, terrorism and totalitarianism are blocking the path of peace. And if we adopt democratic methods instead of terrorism, and democracy instead of totalitarianism, we can reach the same peaceful and non-fatal end that we achieved with the hunger strike issue.

Okay Gönensin from the Vatan daily, on the other hand, warns that now that the hunger strikes have ended, we should not have debates over whether the government or the PKK won this “contest.” As long as no one died during the strikes, it doesn't matter who won or who lost, he says. However, he also asserts that the fact that five soldiers were killed by terrorists in Hakkari on Sunday, right after the strikes ended, suggests that PKK chiefs in the PKK headquarters in the Kandil Mountains in Iraq might have aimed to sabotage Öcalan's positive move.

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