Politics

Group researching 'peace' with Kurds reaches Mindanao

Int'l group looking at ways it can help Turkey's on/off 'solution process' hopes to learn from Philippines peace process

27.06.2015
Group researching 'peace' with Kurds reaches Mindanao

By Hader Glang

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines

An international group looking at ways in which it can help Turkey's on/off "solution process" with the Kurds has visited the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to discuss the ongoing peace initiative between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Democratic Progress Institute (DPI), led by Turkish Director Kerim Yildiz, was welcomed by ARMM Chief of Staff lawyer Rasol Mitmug Jr on Friday according to a press statement from the region's Bureau of Public Information.

ARMM officials said they briefed Yildiz and his party -- which advertises itself as an international group that specializes in conflict resolution -- on the region’s initiatives on the Bangsamoro transition.

Huseyin Oruc -- vice president of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation -- told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that the trip involves ex-parliamentarians, journalists, and actors, including Ali Bayramoglu, Fadime Ozkan, Yilmaz Ensaroglu, and Kadir Inanir.

"It's not an official delegation. It is a trip organized by the Democratic Progress Institute (DPI). They were meant to go there on October 2014, but the 6-7 October incidents happened so they could not go," he said.

In October, protests started throughout Turkey under the pretext that it had not done enough to halt Daesh attacks in Kobani, on Turkey's southern border with Syria.

By the end, at least 38 people and two police officers had died.

"The reason of their trip is to observe the on-going peace process in Philippines, how is it done. To affiliate with the Kurdish issue in Turkey. They went to Northern Ireland with that purpose before as well," Oruc said.

In its statement, the ARMM's information bureau office executive director Amir Mawallil said that the group also discussed various programs and projects for the region’s constituents.

He added that Yildiz had revealed that the aims and objectives of the DPI were to broaden the base for dialogue and conflict resolution between the Turkish government and Kurdish militant groups, which is done through activities, mainly study visits, as well as round table meetings.

The Turkish government launched the "solution process" initiative in 2013 with the aim of bringing an end to the decades-long conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which resulted in a call for disarmament from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Decades of conflict between the group and the Turkish security forces has led to the deaths of some 40,000 people.

A statement Wednesday from the Office of the Presidential Adviser quoted Yildiz as saying that “the Turks are at a very important stage”.

He added that the group is interested in discussing “the architecture of a peace process, including the negotiations and cessation of hostilities; the role of the media; the role of civil society in mobilizing a peace process; and the role of third parties”.

Mawallil added in Friday's statement that Yildiz had said that ex-members of Parliament from Turkey’s main political parties, members of the Wise Persons Commission, policy makers and journalists were taking part in such study visits.

DPI was established in consultation with a group of international experts in conflict-affected areas around the world, including Turkey, and other countries such as Peru, South Africa and Ireland.

From June 21 to 26, the delegates are conducting a week-long comparative study visit to the Philippines to explore lessons learned from the southern Philippines’ peace process.

“This is an important and timely visit, which comes at a critical point in the Philippines’ peace process in particular in relation to the recent decommissioning of weapons,” the statement quoted Yildiz as saying.

The visit was hosted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

On March 27, 2014, the government and the MILF signed a peace deal -- named the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro -- that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in the southern area of while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines. 

The deal committed President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF to pass a law creating the Bangsamoro Region -- which will supplant the ARMM -- once the law is passed and ratified.

*Anadolu Agency correspondent Satuk Bugra Kutlugun contributed to this story from Ankara.

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