Monday, November 10, 2008


"The current practices that aim at the imposition of uniformity on society through a monolithic understanding of state administration do not respond to social needs. Rather, they stand as the primary cause of prevailing problems and crises."
~ DTP, Democratic Autonomy Project.

Now you all get the chance to see why MHP, BBP, CHP and the rest have their panties in knots. From the email inbox, DTP's "Democratic Autonomy Project" document, Part A (Gelek sipas, Heval):




The Republic proclaimed after a joint struggle waged by the People of Anatolia in 1920’s, has not been able to acquire a democratic quality in spite of the eighty-four years that have passed. The centralist system of nation state, while engendering the ignorance of cultural differences, has given rise to major discrepancies rendering the social and economic problems and demands for freedom and equality of all social segments in Turkey deadlocked.

In essence, the administrative conception that ignores cultural differences –particularly that of Kurdish people and yet that adopts the elimination of cultures through assimilation as official ideology, is devoid of providing solutions to any specific social problem. The current practices that aim at the imposition of uniformity on society through a monolithic understanding of state administration do not respond to social needs. Rather, they stand as the primary cause of prevailing problems and crises. The political and administrative mechanism of the nation state, organized as a rigid, centralist entity, corresponds a fortiori to an oligarchic structure rather than a Democratic Republic. The expression in the Preamble to the 1982 Turkish Constitution that qualifies the Republic as essentially a social, democratic, secular state, governed by the rule of law, has never been effectuated throughout the course of the republic. It is beyond dispute that the discursive non-ethnic (civic) understanding of Turkish nationalism apart, the military, administrative and judicial organization of the state has, in fact, been fundamentally established on an overwhelming conception of Turkish ethnicity.

The process of nation state building, initiated with the Treaty of Westphalia, has been fabricated on the generation of the uniform citizen and a cultural structure based upon such conception of the individual. This system has induced an extermination of the cultures outside the dominant culture; thereby paving the way for an incredible massacre of cultures. Again, during this period, the world has experienced two world wars and thousands of regional and local wars. Eventually, this process of nation state building has ascended to the level of Hitler fascism. In the aftermath of the Second World War, upon experience of the dangerous course of history, several European countries have adapted themselves to the federal administrative structure; hence, the European Union has emerged as the culmination of this orientation. The administrative structure of the United States has also been predicated upon an attempt to thwart this dangerous possibility. Nevertheless, states such as France are still tackling ongoing problems due to their insufficient perception of the issue.

Yet, even in countries such as France, which is presented as the most powerful model of nation state based on ethnicity, the eventual recognition of the impossibility of carrying along with the existing nation state system has led to the abolition of barriers to free self-expression of different languages and cultures, which took effect with accompanying legal changes acting as a bulwark. “Dixion Language Law” has granted the Corsican, Basque, Breton and Alsace languages the right to education, broadcasting and such. Likewise, autonomy in several degrees has been granted to the Sardinian, German, French and Slovene languages in Italy, the Slovene, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian and Sorab languages in Austria, the Spanish language in the USA, the Swedish language in Finland and Turkish in Greece. Contemporary Iraq also signifies one of the disastrous consequences of the centralist nation state system. It is revealed without doubt today that the Saddam regime which was established on the basis of Arab nationalism stands as the major cause of the violent ethnic clashes taking place in Iraqi geography. The persistence of the system of administration based on a centralist conception of the nation rather than the organization differences around a democratic conception of the nation has reduced Iraq to its current state of affairs.

In spite of the discourse in Turkey stating that sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the people and that the will of the nation is superior to the rest, certain mechanisms providing the democratic participation of people in state administration has hitherto not been established and the military tutelage over civilian politics has been regarded as normal.

Compared to contemporary democracies where problems are discussed and solved in localities by the people encountering them, the rigid, centralist, administrative structure of Turkey, which is remote from the localities, manifests a deadlocked image with its slow, cumbersome characteristics.. The central government in Ankara, facing many different cultural, social and economic problems from East to West and from North to South has not only been unable to generate the will to bring about a solution to these problems, but has been structurally exhausted to a significant extent.

On this basis, our Congress sees inevitable the comprehensive change of Turkish political-administrative structure through a fundamental reform. Considering many contemporary debates, world experiences and current state of affairs in the Middle East, it is evident that statehood and statehood based on ethnicity in particular, brings suppression rather than democracy and freedom to people.

In accordance with this argument, the philosophically and conjecturally sightless understanding of politics of demanding a separate state for each and every nation seems capable of triggering mutual slaughter between people. Instead, a model of political and administrative structure that takes as its basis the democratic unity of the people, liberates democracy from the limitations of a single general assembly, enables the participation of people in mechanisms of discussion and decision and promotes a local and immediate solution to all fundamental problems of society asserts itself as an urgent necessity. Our congress depicts the contemporary conceptualization of the model “democratic autonomy” which is predicated upon the gaining of autonomy of all diversities on matters of free self expression and the rendering of voice to the people in all localities protecting the integrity of the country. Democratic autonomy, also meaning democratic self-governance, introduces the essentials of Democratic Republic.

Democratic Autonomy;

-- Envisages a fundamental reform in order to achieve democratization in the political and administrative structure of Turkey,

-- Departs from an understanding that advocates the empowerment of the people in processes of discussion and decision making as a method for problem solving,

-- Defends the principle of democratic participation for incorporating people into processes of decision making and establishes itself upon the system of assemblies in all local units.

-- Rather than a purely “ethnic” and “territorial” conception of autonomy, democratic autonomy defends a regional and local structure through which cultural differences are able to freely express themselves,

-- Observance with the “Flag” and “Official Language” are binding for the whole territory; yet, democratic autonomy also envisages the establishment of democratic self-governance by each region and autonomous unit with their own colors and symbols,

-- Predicating itself upon the self-sufficiency of the society as a whole, it does not seek the solution to the problem solely with reference to a change in the state system.

-- While envisaging a change in the political and administrative structure of Turkey, shedding light onto the demographic structure of Turkey and the conduct of necessary studies herein are imperative.

Also taking into consideration the endeavor on the New Constitution, the need for a comprehensive political and administrative reform asserts itself in order to bring to life “democratic autonomy”, which we define as the most rational model for the solution of different social problems ranging from common issues experienced by all provinces such as İstanbul, Antalya, Adana, Samsun, Edirne and Kars, to unique, local issues within a modern and democratic state structure.

In this administrative model, through the operation of decentralization, a regional assembly which assumes power through elections similar to those of the county councils is established. The regional assembly embraces those neighbor provinces which are in close socio-cultural and economic encounter. This regional assembly assumes responsibility in fields of service such as concerning education, health, culture, social services, agriculture, marine, industry, construction, telecommunication, social security, women, youth and sports. The central government conducts foreign affairs, finance and defense services. Security and judicial services are jointly conducted by the central and regional government. The central supervision of these services is mutually determined by both governments.

Regional assemblies provide the carrying out of services through their reception of local revenues alongside the budget allocated by the central government taking into consideration population indices and levels of development. Underdeveloped and poor regions benefit from positive discrimination.

These assemblies are called “regional assemblies” and the people assuming duty in these assemblies are called “regional representatives”. The assembly elects the assembly chairperson and the executive council members of the assigned field of duty separately. The chairperson and members of the executive council are responsible for the execution of the decisions taken by the assembly.

This structure does not denote federalism or autonomy based on ethnicity; it is rather an administrative consolidation situated between the central government and provinces that takes participatory democracy as its basis. Each of the regions is named after the specific name of the region or of the largest province within the area of responsibility of the regional assembly.

In this model, governors of provinces are responsible for the enforcement of the decisions taken by both the central government and the regional executive council. Provincial town organizations of ministries submit to the same procedure. Other administrative structures such as the Provincial General Assembly, municipalities and elected heads of neighborhoods (Mukhtar) retain their existence.

In essence, regional assemblies to be established in Turkey, the numbers of which are figured around 20-25, constitute democratic political and administrative structures that facilitate the smooth conduct of affairs between the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) and the provinces and that enable increased participation of the people in state administration. The functioning and jurisprudence of this political and administrative structure is expected to take shape as a consequence of the intense academic and political debates to be conducted in the forthcoming period of time.

Our Congress has the conviction that this model signifies a significant improvement in the construction of the Democratic Republic. Thereby, the process of democratization miscarried during the first years of the Republic is to be effectuated. This process denotes at the same time, the implementation of a variety of Local Autonomy cited in Ataturk’s statements to the journalist Ahmet Emin Yalman, in the face of contemporary circumstances.

The implementation of “Democratic Autonomy”, which requires joint elaboration with the establishment of civilian, self organizations of society, is essentially the systematized model of the perception of “less state” “more society”, “less restrictions”, “more freedom”. It is for this reason that, democratic autonomy connotes a more functional, democratic and participatory system through which the society is able to formulate solutions to its own problems, utilizing the intermediation of civilian and independent institutions, the scope of which is by no means limited to comprehensive and central state intervention in all areas of social life. In all areas of social life ranging from economy, environmental problems to health, education, culture and arts and the freedom of women, autonomous units predicating themselves on self-sufficiency are to be established. The expression implies that the society constructs its own system of democratic autonomy by means of its own will. Our congress, while envisaging reform in state structure, has reached a decision that favors the prompt installation of the self-organization systems of society.

Our congress deems essential the redefinition of the concept of “NATION” through the common ties of belonging to the “NATION OF TURKEY” as an indication of the advancement of the democratic nation, in place of the emphasis on ethnic identity, particularly present in the Constitution.

In replacement of a definition of citizenship which depicts every individual as Turkish, the citizenship of Turkish Republic, within the framework of “Turkey as homeland” that recognizes cultural identities and embraces the nation of Turkey based on these cultural identities is acknowledged. Diverse identities and cultures that constitute the nation of Turkey are hence able to acquire a freer atmosphere through this system within which they preserve and improve their differences under constitutional guarantee. As a matter of fact, these principles, espoused in 1920’s, have been included in the 1921 Constitution of the Republic and yet they have been abolished with the adoption of the 1924 Constitution of the Republic. For this reason, the new Constitution, which requires elaboration as a new social contract in accordance with the founding philosophy of the Republic qualifies as Turkey’s headway to twenty first century.

The arrangement in the new Constitution so as to include the clause “the Constitution of the Turkish Republic acquiesces the democratic existence and self expression of all cultures” would entail a steering approach for Turkey’s democratization and the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish Question. Our political objectives, depicted as the abolition of barriers to all languages and cultures –the Kurdish language heading first- and the democratic redefinition of the ethnic based concepts of “citizenship” and “nation” constitute principal criterions in the Constitutional Referendum.

As a matter of fact, though the restrictions on language and culture persisting since 1924 have been particularly designed in order to target the Kurdish population; other diverse cultures in Turkey have also received their share in the process. For this reason, the need for accepting the presence of ethnic and religious diversities constituting the Nation of Turkey as a cultural richness as well as the advancement of specific regulations by the state, which attributes the state a positive performance in their protection and enhancement, arises. Although Turkish is retained as official language, taking into consideration the demographic structure of the regions and in conformity with the clauses of international conventions, constitutional guarantee for the use of other languages in public sphere and as language of education is required. The opportunity for self-organization and creation of civilian institutions of all cultures, including the right to engage in politics in one’s mother tongue should be placed under constitutional guarantee. Furthermore, statements constraining liberty of thought and speech should not exist in the Constitution.

Social inequalities emanate from gender inequality. Any demand for equality and freedom is bound to fall short of its objectives in the absence of gender equality. For this reason, the clear and open statement of the principle of positive discrimination in the Constitution is mandatory in order to provide the equal participation of women in social, cultural, political and economic life and to achieve gender equality in all aspects of life.

Part B tomorrow.


Gordon Taylor said...

Gut reactions:

1) It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Bravo to these courageous people for having produced this constructive document.

2) I hope it's better-written in Turkish than it is in English. It looks like it was written by a sociologist; that is, someone who never uses a one-syllable word when he can find a word with four.

3) Thanks to M. for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. This is excellent.

Hevallo said...

Thanks Mizgin for this. Any link that I set up with DTP's document 'strangely' did not work.

Mizgîn said...

Hevallo, do you have the three-language version? Let me know and, if not, I'll send it to you.

To everyone, you're welcome.

Cornille said...

Isn't there a PDF file?

Anonymous said...

From the national liberation and an independent Kurdish state to the Democratic Autonomy Project...

Ernesto Che wouldn't like it...