A declaration titled “Let us be the Voice of Peace”, a plea for the revival of peace talks reminiscent of the 2013-2015 dialogue between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was released by 564 intellectuals, including musicians, art critics, writers, directors, actors, artists and academics, in two press conferences in Istanbul and Diyarbakir (Amed) on Sunday.
Notable signatories are writer Fırat Cewerî, actress Jülide Kural, musician Mikail Aslan, film director Sırrı Süreyya Önder, associate professor of theatre Süreyya Karacabey and composer-songwriter Şanar Yurdatapan. This diverse group has united to voice their concerns over the current state of affairs in Turkey, highlighting issues such as diminishing legislative autonomy, a compromised judiciary under a ‘one-man regime’ and a decline in secular and free education in institutions.
Revival of Peace Talks
The signatories call for the resumption of peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK, similar to the talks that took place between 2013 and 2015: “The possibilities for reconciliation were created through negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan, one of the interlocutors in the problem. With the consent of a large part of society, the process can begin again.”
Call for government to abandon policies of oppression
They urge the Turkish government to ‘abandon its policy of oppression, isolation, and war’, calling for a shift towards a more dialogic approach.
Addressing societal issues
The declaration highlights a range of societal issues including the undermining of legislative autonomy, the loss of judicial independence, and the decline in secular and free education. The group criticises “a landscape in which legislative autonomy succumbs to pressure from the ruling elite, an independent judiciary loses its autonomy to a ‘one-man regime’ and educational institutions fall behind in promoting secular and free education.”
Confronting violence and inequality
The signatories express concern over increasing violence, particularly against women, and the exacerbation of social inequalities. They highlight “the appointment of trustees to universities and local councils, increasing violence against women, the escalating brain drain and the exodus of young people fearing an uncertain future.”
Breaking the silence
Calling for a new narrative to address the challenges facing the nation, the artists and writers asserted their responsibility to break the prevailing silence.
Society’s need for courage
In the statement, the signatories reflect on the past successes of negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, acknowledging that a large part of society had consented to this process. They stress the importance of society taking courage for peace and urge the government to abandon its policies of oppression, isolation and war. Their call is clear: society should not fear dialogue and conversation in the pursuit of peace and resolution.