Turkey is no Libya or Syria in terms of repression, but the country has a few million disgruntled Kurds who would like more autonomy. One Kurdish political leader is threatening civil disobedience if the government fails to enact a new constitution that meets Kurdish demands.
Turkey has been fighting a war with some of its Kurdish population since the 1980s, with more than 30,000 casualties, according to the CIA.
In 2005, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “the Kurdish problem is my problem” and promised to improve relations with the ethnic minority. He may be taking too long. —PZS
Playing on increased cultural autonomy, improved infrastructure and a sentiment of Muslim fraternity, the AKP has enjoyed solid, if far from universal, popularity in the poor south-east and has more than 60 Kurdish MPs in the outgoing parliament. Yet many Kurds complain the AKP has not delivered on its promises.
“Erdogan thought he could just throw us a few candies and say that we are all brothers and that would be enough,” said [Turkish politician Altan] Tan. “Yes, so we now have Kurdish language TV [in 2009, the AKP sanctioned the broadcast of the first Kurdish channel, TRT-6] but we could already watch Kurdish TV from abroad using our satellite dishes. Nothing important has changed.”