Turkey’s Kurdish question is that country’s single most important problem. It is and has always been a political problem. Successive Turkish governments have sought to resolve it either through repressive military and occasionally economic means. The recently concluded June 12 Turkish elections promised to usher in a new approach. This is because, in the run-up to the elections, a consensus had emerged that the newly elected parliament would start the process of writing a new constitution. The current one was authored in 1982 by a military junta.
Turkey has changed greatly since 1982; in 2011, it is a far more diverse, prosperous, and sophisticated society. It is an economic power to reckon with and a candidate for European membership. The 1982 constitution, meanwhile, is ideological and authoritarian in intent and construction. By privileging the interests of the state over the individual, it has proven to be singularly inadequate at meeting Turkey’s current needs and challenges and an impediment to both greater democratization and the resolution of the Kurdish question.
During the election campaign, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, promised to work on a new civilian constitution immediately after a new parliament convened. In his victory speech, he reiterated this promise. The prospect of a new civilian constitution has led to rising expectations among Turkish Kurds who have always seen this document as among the most important hurdles to their becoming full-fledged citizens of the republic. The Kurds have consistently argued that the 1982 constitution is not only undemocratic but also alienating, because of its abundant and overt characterization of citizens as being solely members of the “Turkish nation.”
The prospect of a new constitution has spurred numerous groups—from political parties, such as the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), to think tanks, business organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—to start working on their own constitutional proposals. Soon after its 2007 electoral victory, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) commissioned a draft constitutional proposal from a group of eminent jurists and academics. In the tumult that ensued following the 2007 elections, including an attempt to close it down, the AKP abandoned its efforts. In the ensuing years, however, the atmosphere became more conducive to rewriting the constitution. Prosecutors called in the leaders of the 1980 military coup for questioning; for the first time, officials cast doubt over the legitimacy of the intervention.
Still, the politics of reform are complicated. The June 12 elections resulted in big wins for both the ruling AKP and the BDP. The latter surprised everyone by electing many more representatives to parliament than expected. In a very short period of time, however, what appeared to be a propitious atmosphere to begin the hard process of bargaining over the constitution disappeared, as a number of BDP parliamentarians were prevented from taking their seats by judicial authorities. This, in turn, provoked a parliamentary boycott by the BDP. Then, as if the atmosphere was not sufficiently tense, a July 14 firefight between the army and presumed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters erupted; thirteen soldiers and seven insurgents were killed.
The process of rewriting the constitution and reconciling Kurdish grievances will be subject to many more ups and downs. We aim to provide the reforms’ bare essentials. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor do we intend to offer a solution to all of the problems associated with either the Kurdish question or the furtherance of democracy in Turkey. It is safe to argue that the continued democratization of Turkey is ultimately the best guarantee to resolve the Kurdish issue. Instead, we seek to identify the problematic aspects of the current constitution as a guide for what to expect from a new document.
Political actors will undoubtedly bring their own agendas into the process and, therefore, complicate it. What position the ruling AKP will assume is difficult to ascertain at the moment. This is primarily because Erdogan has been contemplating a systemic transformation of Turkey from a parliamentary to a semi-presidential system. As a result, a discussion of the political modalities falls outside our scope here.
When it comes to change, Kurds make three broad sets of demands: change the constitution’s emphasis on Turkish ethnicity, remove the prohibitions on cultural and political rights, and reduce excessive administrative centralization. After analyzing the influence of previous constitutions on the Kurdish issue, we focus on these three sets of changes.
Constitutions: Past and Present
Turkey has had four constitutions, starting with the one promulgated in 1921. The others were introduced in 1924, 1961, and 1982. All four were either drafted under extraordinary circumstances or by authoritarian regimes.
The 1921 document, drafted amid the struggle against the victorious World War I powers that invaded the Anatolian heartland, served as a preliminary document intended to unify all inhabitants against the foreigners. Members of the present-day Kurdish national movement have often commented that this was the only constitutional document that provided them with a path to recognition and equal citizenship. If Kurds have spoken approvingly of the 1921 constitution1 it is because the document made no reference to Turks as a nation or suggested that the citizens of Turkey were Turks. Sovereignty, it simply stated, belonged to the people. Most importantly, the constitution also contained provisions for provincial autonomy.
Following the victory of Kemal Atatürk and his nationalist forces in 1922, the nascent Turkish republic introduced a new constitution in 1924 that undid the inclusive aspects of the 1921 document. The need for Turkish-Kurdish collaboration to defeat the foreign invaders had passed, and nation-building and centralization had became the new focus. This came at the expense of ethnic harmony in a part of the world known for its mosaic of peoples, religions, cultures, and ethnicities. The 1924 constitution set forth the parameters of an overly controlling state where the center, Ankara—unwilling to trust its periphery—assumed complete decision-making power down to the minutiae.
A military regime ushered in a new constitution in 1961. While maintaining all of the restrictive provisions on the Kurds, the 1961 document marked an important break with the past by granting collective bargaining rights to workers and providing universities with significant autonomy. It also institutionalized the political role of the armed forces through the creation of a military-dominated National Security Council (NSC) and retained the previous uncompromising interpretations of secularism and of Turkish ethnicity. When student unrest and political violence broke out in Turkey at the end of the 1960s, the military—having once again forced out a civilian government in 1971—amended the 1961 constitution to strengthen the power of the state and curtail individual freedoms.
These amendments did not prevent the reemergence of political violence and Kurdish mobilization in southeastern towns and provinces, however. Hence, in 1980, generals once again overthrew the civilian government. The new junta sought to address Turkey’s problems by introducing a brand-new constitution. Not unlike its Latin American corporatist counterparts, the regime, through the 1982 constitution, imposed tight controls on freedom of speech, organizations, and political activities.
The document also sought to impose an ideological framework based on Atatürk’s 1930s reforms. Together with a set of accompanying legislation, the military weaved an intricate web of relationships with political parties, the civilian bureaucracy, the media, and academia that stifled dissent and maintained control. Yet, stability remained elusive in the Kurdish provinces. The outcome of the post-1980 draconian order was to embolden a new, long-lasting Kurdish rebellion, led by the PKK.
This edifice constructed by the military regime started to unravel with the implementation of EU reforms, the 2002 rise of the AKP, increased prosperity, diversification of Turkish society, and its and mistakes committed by an overconfident and overbearing military establishment. New elites, an EU-supported political opening, rising globalization, and a more self-confident civil society began to gnaw at the cornerstone of the illiberal conception of the state, the 1982 constitution.
Since 1982, there have been numerous attempts to alter the constitution—including the most recent one implemented after a nationwide referendum on September 12, 2010—but none has transformed its essential authoritarian character. The current constitution falls well short of EU requirements and does not live up to the legal engagements undertaken by Turkey, such as the 1990 Charter of Paris, which states “…that the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities will be protected and that persons belonging to national minorities have the right freely to express, preserve and develop that identity without any discrimination and in full equality before the law.”2
The Constitution and the Kurdish Question
When asked, most Kurds express three broad sets of criticisms of the current constitution. First, it relies on Turkish ethnicity to define citizenship. Second, it prevents Kurds from expressing themselves in their own language and furthering their own culture and political interests, through impediments to education, speech, and/or broadcasting. Third, it preserves the state’s centralized character, which has a stultifying effect on local decision-making. While the first two of these criticisms are specific to the Kurdish issue, remedying the third—the over-centralization of the political and administrative system—would benefit all of Turkey’s citizens.
1. The State, Ethnicity, and Citizenship
The preamble to the current constitution sets the forth the ideological tone and spirit of the document. It is also where the first encounter with Turkish ethnic identity occurs. The first paragraph states:
In line with the concept of nationalism and the reforms and principles introduced by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, the immortal leader and the unrivalled hero, this Constitution, which affirms the eternal existence of the Turkish nation and motherland and the indivisible unity of the [noble] Turkish state, embodies:3
The document proceeds to affirm the existence of “Turkish historical and moral values” and the principle that sovereignty is “vested fully and unconditionally in the Turkish nation.” It concludes by stating, “it [the constitution] is entrusted by the Turkish nation to the patriotism and nationalism of its democracy-loving sons and daughters.”4
Despite the interspersed presence of references to Turkish citizenship and the notion of equality before the law, the document’s intent and message is unmistakable. Its references to “Atatürkist nationalism,” a “Turkish existence,” and the history of Turkishness, however, give it an exclusive ethnic spirit. It presupposes that there is only one form of nationalist feeling and only one ideology to which all citizens must adhere. The preamble in essence assumes the existence of only one ethnic and cultural identity.5 By sanctifying the founding leader Atatürk and his philosophy and reforms, the preamble suggests a vision confined to a time and space that have long disappeared.
The need for a preamble has been questioned by a majority of the groups offering alternative versions. With the exception of the Bar Association—whose proposed preamble retains many of the references to Atatürk’s reforms and ideology—the emerging civil society consensus is for a short and neutral paragraph that emphasizes the rights of Turkish citizens in lieu of a preamble.6 The panel put together by Professor Ergun Özbudun at Erdogan’s request following the 2007 elections also favored a short paragraph that emphasizes the inalienable rights of individuals, although it, too, pays respect to Atatürk’s grand goals.7
Atatürk remains a potent and singularly important symbol. He is the founder of the modern Turkish state, and even Kurdish leaders have argued that references to him are acceptable. The problem emerges when his legacy is codified in a strict—though still ambiguous—official ideology. Its use as the official ideology has been at the root of state authorities’ authoritarian behavior.
Most civil society groups have suggested relatively short preambles, arguing for simplicity and universality. Both DISK, the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Syndicates—one of the two most important labor union confederations—and the December 10 Movement resolve the ethnic identity issue by invoking a rather unique and all-encompassing concept: “the successors to Anatolian civilizations.”8
European societies, including those with ethnic minorities, have selected to include short preambles that emphasize universal goals and principles. In Spain, for instance, the preamble states that the will of the nation is to “protect all Spaniards and peoples of Spain in the exercise [of] human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages, and institutions.”9 By contrast, Romania has no preamble. Bulgaria references universal human values. The Hungarian document simply states that Hungary is to be a parliamentary multi-party democracy with a social-market economy.
The problems for Kurds, as an ethnic group, are not limited to the preamble. The constitution’s first three articles define Turkey as a secular republic with Ankara as its capital, Turkish as its language, and a specific national anthem. Article 2, which states that the republic is “loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk,” also references the “fundamental tenets set forth in the preamble.” These articles, together with the preamble, have helped to shape the spirit and content of the constitution. What makes them especially significant is that they have been made bulletproof by Article 4, which states that the first three articles are immutable. Article 4, in fact, even prohibits “contemplating any change” to them.10
Among other problematic articles are the ones concerning citizenship. Article 66 states that “everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk. The child of a Turkish father or a Turkish mother is a Turk.”11 The article, which also establishes the conditions under which citizenship is acquired or lost, does not in fact define citizenship as a right. Instead, citizenship equals being a “Turk.” Although Turkish officials insist that the usage of “Turk” is intended as an adjective and does not denote an ethnic identity, citizens who do not consider themselves Turkish find this definition disparaging.12
Paradoxically, the 1924 constitution was more inclusive than the current one; while it considered all citizens to be Turks, it stressed that the concept of citizenship should not discriminate along religious or racial lines.13 In practice, however, this distinction did not help Kurds and other minorities in Turkey, as the new state tried furiously to assimilate them even as it denied their existence.
Hence, the current efforts by civil society groups and pro-Kurdish political activists and politicians are targeted at defining “constitutional citizenship.” Accordingly, citizenship is defined as a “fundamental right.” Not only is constitutional citizenship independent of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or culture, it is meant to respect a society’s natural diversity and prevent state authorities from pursuing policies designed to assimilate minorities.14 As a fundamental right, state authorities, therefore, cannot revoke citizenship. This idea runs counter to current practice; the 1982 constitution allows the state to revoke the citizenship of anyone deemed to have acted incompatibly with devotion to the motherland. The ambiguity implicit in this formulation has empowered state authorities to revoke the citizenship of numerous dissidents.
The preamble and Article 66 are not the only articles that privilege the “Turkish Nation.” Article 5 is among the most comprehensive and important ones because it defines the role and duties of the state. It reads, “[t]he fundamental aims and duties of the state are: to safeguard the independence and integrity of the Turkish Nation, the indivisibility of the country, the Republic and democracy. . .” The preeminence accorded to the state—an ambiguous concept at best—and the projection of goals and obligations on to it is one of the core problematic conceptualizations in the Turkish constitution.
By adopting an expansive approach to the state, the constitution in effect created an impossible situation. On the one hand, it opened the way for arbitrary interpretations of state-individual relations and, therefore, encumbered the individual with obligations it cannot possibly meet, such as acting in a “manner compatible with devotion to the motherland.” On the other hand, it also burdened the state with obligations that can sound absurd. For instance, Article 59 requires the state to develop sporting opportunities for its citizens and to “protect the successful” sportsman. None of the European constitutions approaches the state as a living institution with rights and duties.
Other articles also contain references to the “Turkish Nation,” such as Article 6 on sovereignty, Article 7 on the powers of the Grand National Assembly, and Article 9 on the exercise of judicial power. In each case, the Turkish Nation is singled out. These references, however, are easily remedied by dropping the word “Turkish” without modifying the articles’ content. Still, given the strength of nationalist forces and ideas, few politicians will likely dare to support such a simple wording change. Altering other articles is even harder to contemplate because they lie on the fault line of Turkish politics, and many people will fight to preserve the ethnic character of the state. In reality, politics will make it impossible for retail-style amendments; only a wholesale change would ease the public’s acceptance.
2. Cultural and Political Rights
Since the beginning of the republic, Kurds have complained that the Turkish state’s assimilation campaign and the prohibition on the use of their language is a way to extinguish their culture. Starting in the 1990s, many of the restrictions on the use of Kurdish have been slowly and, in a de facto manner, removed or simply ignored. Nevertheless, the constitution is replete with articles that prevent the use of Kurdish. Many of the restrictions on cultural rights are indistinguishable from political rights. Devising a line between what is cultural and what is political has bedeviled the authorities and their critics. For instance, does the right to broadcast in Kurdish constitute a cultural or a political right, especially if the content is of political nature?15
For Kurds, the notion of cultural rights, as distinct from political rights, has to do with education and the maintenance of Kurdish traditions as distinct from Turkish ones. In other words, it is about the right to call a particular local dance Kurdish (and not Turkish) or even the right to denote the region where one lives as Kurdistan or use the original Kurdish name for a town and hamlet. The main concern, however, remains the use, study, and future development of the Kurdish language.
The Turkish government, on the other hand, is still conflicted about the use of Kurdish. To compete with a European-based, pro-PKK Kurdish television station that broadcasts in Kurdish, the government started its own Kurdish-language channel, Kanal Shesh, which naturally is devoid of any political content. Paradoxically, the official minutes of Turkish Grand National Assembly’s daily meetings will not reflect anything any member of parliament may have uttered in Kurdish because it is “an unidentified language.”
None of the constitutional proposals advanced by the myriad of groups in Turkey, including the pro-Kurdish BDP, takes issue with Turkish as the official language. However, stating that the Turkish republic’s “official language is Turkish” is different than the stipulation in the 1982 constitution that defined the state’s language to be Turkish. Having an official language does not prevent the use of other languages as the need arises. Spain’s official language is Spanish, but clearly it does not prohibit the use of other languages, such as Catalan or Basque. An official language is a language that has been adopted legally, in this case by a parliament. Parliament, again as in the case of Spain, can allow other languages to be used.
Currently, the most contentious dispute is over restrictive clauses such as Article 42, which explicitly bans the “teaching of any language other than Turkish as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens.” Moreover, the constitution also stated that “foreign languages” to be taught in institutions of learning should be determined by law. In practice, this meant that Kurdish was never authorized, while other languages, such as Greek and Armenian, were allowed. These provisions of the constitution and their implementation directly contradict the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, in which the Turkish state guaranteed that “no restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by any Turkish national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, religion, in the press, or in publications of any kind or at public meetings.”16
Although many of the prohibitions on the use of Kurdish are slowly being dismantled or purposefully ignored, many of the laws emanating from the constitution, such as electoral laws, severely restrict the use of Kurdish for political purposes. To date, using Kurdish during a political campaign—including addressing a Kurdish-speaking audience in Kurdish—is prohibited. Ahmet Turk, the most senior of the Kurdish politicians, was recently charged with precisely this crime. The prosecutor has demanded that he be sentenced to thirty-five years in prison.
In addition, the constitution prohibits political parties from engaging in certain activities. The ambiguous nature of these proscriptions—which in practice have allowed any prosecutor or set of judges to interpret any speech or act as a violation of the law—has enabled the judiciary to also ban political parties at will. It is the Kurdish parties that have borne the brunt of such actions, as the current BDP represents the eighth such party in the last twenty years that Kurds have established. All of its predecessors were systematically closed down by the state.
Similarly, Article 79 of the constitution creates the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK), which is comprised of members of the Yargitay (Supreme Court) and the Danistay (Council of State). The YSK’s decisions have become more politicized and capricious with time. The constitution prevents any legal challenge to YSK decisions. Hence, Kurdish groups tend to perceive the YSK as another instrument designed to prevent their right to representation. The crises over Kurdish representation before and after the 2011 elections have once again demonstrated the YSK’s erratic nature. It banned and then unbanned individual candidates, and disqualified elected members from assuming their seats in parliament. Each time its decisions were characterized as fully complying with the laws and rules promulgated by the constitution.
Cultural and political rights intersect because many of the political demands articulated by Kurds concern the use of Kurdish not just in the political sphere but also in education. Though no unanimity of views among Kurds exists, at a minimum they want to see some form of education in Kurdish in the public school system. Some Kurds go further and demand a curriculum in Kurdish, with some of the courses taught in Turkish. While Kurds have been discussing this question for some time, the Turkish public is woefully unprepared for this change—it will be an arduous, step-by-step process. Altering the constitution will at least allow for the beginning of a conversation.
3. Decentralization and Local Governments
Turkey remains one of the most centralized states in the West. Almost every decision or appointment is made in Ankara. Local governments have few, if any, powers and depend completely on the central government for their finances. The central government also appoints provincial governors, all police officers, judges, teachers, and health service personnel. The monopolization of decision-making power in Ankara originated from the founders’ fear of the periphery. In their mind, the periphery stood in stark contrast with the modernity they sought to introduce; the periphery is where the Islamist and Kurdish ethnic strands flourished.
The underdeveloped Kurdish-populated provinces have traditionally been perceived by central government personnel as the least desirable location in which to serve, and, in everyday parlance, being sent to the east and southeast is tantamount to internal exile. Not surprisingly, therefore, the relationship between locals and centrally appointed functionaries has traditionally been very poor. Officials appointed do not want to be there and have few, if any, bonds to the local population, often resulting in poor relations. Language problems add another layer of complexity and miscommunication to civil servant-citizen interactions.
Even in non-Kurdish majority provinces, the centralization of decision-making in Ankara makes for poor governance and causes resentment, though not on the scale and depth of the Kurdish provinces. Members of parliament, for instance, have no local offices and their constituents routinely must travel to Ankara to pursue favors, requests, or interventions from their representatives.
Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect civil servants ensconced in Ankara to have a better understanding of and appreciation for local conditions than the elected local officials. Hence, an element of decentralization would serve the whole country well, not just the Kurdish-populated regions. Turkey remains obligated under the European Charter of Local Self-Government to reform its administrative structure.
Additionally, Article 127 of the constitution sets broad parameters for the central government’s supervisory powers over municipal governments. Most importantly, it invests the interior minister with the power to remove any elected official accused of violating the law. In practice, this has been applied disproportionately against the mayors and councilors in the Kurdish provinces. For example, the mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, Abdullah Demirtas, was removed from office in 2007 for providing basic services to residents in Kurdish.17 The Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has admonished Turkey for failing to provide elected municipal leaders a setting free of political intimidation and enacting new laws to facilitate local decision-making.
Many of the constitutional proposals currently in circulation stress the need to decentralize the Turkish administrative system to improve governance, provide greater say to local citizens, and advance inter-ethnic relations. TESEV, an Istanbul-based independent think tank, has argued that a one-size-fits-all approach to centralization cannot account for regional variance and specific local problems. Ethnic and identity challenges are more likely to be addressed successfully within decentralized political structures.18
The main impediment to any decentralization effort is the fear that it may mark the beginning of regional autonomy in line with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and even Kurdish independence. In an attempt to force the issue publicly, Kurdish groups in the southeast have articulated and unofficially adopted a proposal they term Democratic Autonomy. This primarily consists of small but cascading steps to transfer some powers to localities. While fears related to the devolution of powers are understandable, the need for better governance and delivery of services is a global trend likely to trump Ankara’s desire to maintain control. There are also many examples around the world where autonomy has worked well—despite contentious relations between the center and provinces—without resulting in independence.
Turkish constitutions, with the exception of short-lived 1921 document, have hindered the integration of Kurds as equal citizens in Turkey. A new constitution represents the first step and, without it, Turkey will always live with internal dissension, violence, and instability. Moreover, it is also quite clear that Kurdish political groups are no longer waiting for the government to act. They are intent on pushing for what they believe to be their rights by devising new arrangements (democratic autonomy), articulating specific demands (education in the Kurdish language), and mobilizing politically (BDP).
We have outlined some of the minimum modifications necessary to resolve the Kurdish issue. However, three other important requirements are necessary to move forward.
First, simply altering articles or rendering them ethnically neutral will not suffice. While a new constitution must be mindful of the need to integrate groups and minorities who have been excluded from the mainstream body politic—especially the Kurds and the Alevis, a heterodox religious group—it must first and foremost be democratic in spirit and content.
Second, the new constitution must appeal to a large, if not overwhelming, majority of Turkey’s citizens. The new constitution cannot just be written inside the parliament or solely approved by that body, however representative it may be. In view of the wide interest the issue has received and the numerous proposals submitted by civil society groups, the political system must secure a buy-in from society.
Third, the 1982 constitution, with its 177 articles, is an unwieldy and unnecessarily long document. Still, many of the difficulties facing Turkey in resolving its Kurdish question reside in the laws that were promulgated over the years. These laws, which are generally restrictive, have their origins in the constitution. For instance, electoral laws—specifically the 10-percent minimum threshold that political parties must cross for their representatives to get elected—is not in the constitution but was enacted by the legislature. Similarly, many of the laws regarding education, political parties, the penal code, and other issues must also be completely overhauled to further the democratization process. Changing the constitution is just the first step.
Writing—but especially airing and approving—a new constitution will take time. Once a new document is approved, the task of transforming all of the laws so that they concur with the new constitution will also take time. In the meantime, existing constitutional bodies—including the Constitutional Court—and stakeholders vested in the current system, be they civilian or military, will likely resist.
The road ahead remains long and arduous.
1. Even the commander of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, in an interview with a Turkish journalist, argued that the new constitution should be inspired by 1921 constitution, Serdar Akinan, “1921 anayasası esas alınırsa sorun çözülür,” Aksam, May 21, 2011.
4. The official translation into English of the constitution is quite poor and misses nuances and omits critical concepts. A better translation of the original document, though still awkward, could be the following, “[the constitution] is entrusted by the Turkish nation to the patriotic and nationalist sentiments of a Turkish progeny in love with democracy.”
8. DISK, ““Özgürlükçü, Eşitlikçi, Demokratik ve Sosyal Bir Anayasa İçin Temel İlkeler” (DISK: Istanbul, 2009) and 10 Aralik Hareketi, “Neden Yeni Bir Anayasa? Nasil Bir Yeni Anayasa,” http://www.10aralik.org.tr/
9. Constitution of Spain, http://www.senado.es/constitu_i/indices/consti_ing.pdf
10. Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, recently argued that changing the first four articles of the constitution has to be the starting point of any reform attempt, Milliyet, June 16, 2011.
15. Interestingly, even Kenan Evren, the head of the junta that overthrew the civilian government in 1980 and remained president until 1989, has admitted that banning the use of Kurdish by the 1980-83 military government was one of the mistakes he most regretted. Fikret Bila, “Evren, Kürtçeyi nasıl yasakladı?” Milliyet, June 9, 2011.
16. Treaty of Lausanne Article 39, http://www.hri.org/docs/lausanne/