The Turkish public wants the death penalty to be reinstated so that imprisoned militant leader Abdullah Öcalan can be executed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said Nov. 3 at the annual meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"This country changed the law to abolish the death penalty even though the terrorist leader [Öcalan] was given the death penalty," Erdoğan said. "He is residing now on İmralı [island in the Marmara Sea] because of that. A majority of our people want to bring back the death penalty now because the relatives of the killed are in pain."
Speaking on the continuing debate over hunger strikes, Erdoğan told his party members that they will not be "blackmailed" into releasing Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Some 682 inmates have been staging hunger strikes for 54 days to demand freedom for Öcalan, as well as the right to use Kurdish in court and as a language of instruction.
Erdoğan said the AKP's initial motto was "one nation” and that they aimed to serve every corner of the country equally.
"There are different ethnicities in this country. What did we say? One flag. There is no second flag, such a second flag can not even be imagined. We will not allow that. We also said, ‘one country,’” Erdoğan said. “We also said 'one state."
The government has now launched elective Kurdish courses but not “because the separatist organization [PKK] wanted it,” Erdoğan said.
"[PKK members] have been exploiting my Kurdish brothers for years," Erdoğan said. Öcalan can meet his family: PM
Erdoğan also touched upon the issue of Öcalan's visiting rights while at İmralı.
"Family members and his relatives can see him as long as he wishes to see them. There is no obstacle to that. But the lawyer issue is a separate issue," Erdoğan said.
"We can send his relatives to him anytime," Erdoğan added. "He doesn't want to see them, or they don't want to see him. We will send them whenever they want. Nothing is stopping them on our part."