BDP calls for Mass demos for capture anniversary
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The demonstrations will begin on Feb 13 and should serve the objectives of ending PKK’s jailed leader Öcalan’s solitary confinement in Imralı Island. Hürriyet photoThe Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has issued an appeal to its branches across Turkey to organize mass demonstrations on Feb. 15 to mark the 13th anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The circular called for “extraordinary efforts” to attract the largest possible crowds to the demonstrations, whose theme was outlined as “raising demands for dignified peace, democratic settlement [to the Kurdish problem] and freedom for Öcalan.”
“Ending Öcalan’s isolation is not possible with weekly one-hour meetings between him and his lawyers. That’s why, Mr. Öcalan’s freedom must be demanded as an open demand of our party,” said BDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, in a “perspective paper” which was attached to the circular.
The demonstrations will begin on Feb. 13 and should serve the objectives of ending Öcalan’s solitary confinement and the resumption of talks between the state and the PKK, the paper said. The BDP will hold large rallies in Adana and Kızıltepe as well as marches, sit-ins in an array of other cities, including Istanbul.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the United States and the European Union.
Demirtaş and Kışanak said the demonstrations should be peaceful and raise demands “for the creation of opportunities for Öcalan to play a role” in efforts to ease tensions and strengthen the prospect of a negotiated settlement.
The circular came days after a similar call from senior PKK figure Cemil Bayık. Bayık said on Feb. 5 that they would be targeting administrative and political authorities in the coming period as well as military forces and the police. “This is no longer limited to the mountain, city or metropolis; the war will be spread to every area,” he was quoted as saying by the Fırat News Agency.
Aided by U.S. colleagues, Turkish undercover agents captured Öcalan in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999, after the rebel chieftain was forced to leave the Greek embassy there, where he had been offered refuge while on the run. He was sentenced to death in June that year. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison as Turkey abolished the capital punishment as part of EU-sought reforms.