International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Turkey’s Peace Process Lacking Truth and Reconciliation Initiatives

Turkey has been seeking a peaceful resolution to the country’s internal conflict that ensued between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups which have been demanding either their own independent nation or improved rights for Kurds within Turkey. The president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) but within these negotiations there has been a lack of conversations about truth and justice for the atrocities committed against the Kurdish civilians during the 30 year long conflict in which 30,000-40,000 Kurds were killed and over a million displaced. In the article, it states how the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission but how despite this being a demand of various human rights groups as well as the family and relatives of the victims, this has “rarely been the subject of public debate in Turkey”. It goes on further by saying that Turkey is known to suppress the memories of past atrocities which makes the road to reconciliation more complicated and challenging as the list of atrocities continues to pile up. Truth can be very destabilizing to a country. More specifically the truth could destabilize the Turkish government since the state continues to use violence and furthermore many of the atrocities that have occurred in Turkey have been interconnected which makes it especially difficult for Turkey to deal with its past. Despite having an increased demand for truth in human rights groups and families of the victims, there really hasn’t been any collective widespread public pressure on the government to pursue the truth. In the article it explains that this is due to the normalization of state violence and the “political apathy and cynicism arising from the disbelief in the justice system.” Also in due part to the state’s denial and official discourse that has legitimized this violent past and present. As we discussed in class and as is discussed in this article, sometimes the truth that is recognized by the state is a limited truth since its boundaries are defined by the state and fuel’s the state’s narrative. Is is important to recognize the value of truth in the reconciliation process while at the same time acknowledge its shortcomings. In Turkey’s case it will be important to link truth and justice for its past crimes but also end ongoing violence against the Kurds in order to achieve peace and stability.


One response to “Turkey’s Peace Process Lacking Truth and Reconciliation Initiatives

  1. samdawg94 April 6, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I find it very interesting that despite the Kurdish movement demanding a truth commission for the countless atrocities committed against them, there has not been a public feeling of need for a truth commission. The ruling Islamic AK Party blocked the formation of a truth commission, which raises the question: do many of the Turks and the government feel like they have something to hide? This article ( ) suggests that shying away from a dark and tragic truth is a reoccurring theme in Turkey – an idea that the original poster also mentioned. It is likely that uncovering the truth may cause some government officials, who were responsible for the violence, to be exposed, which could lead to further instability and violence in the region. While I do believe that finding the truth is generally a good method for facing and accepting what occurred, I also think that it is not worth seeking the truth at the risk of more death and destruction. In the Turkish case, it seems the latter may become a reality if a truth and reconciliation commission is established, which is unfortunate because the perpetrators may never be held accountable for their crimes.

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