‘Communication ban’ on Öcalan could be deepened

‘Communication ban’ on Öcalan could be deepened

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

A ground operation into northern Iraq is underway, following the raid in Çukurca. Statements issued by members of the government demonstrate that a policy of tougher and more forceful confrontation is to be adopted. It is said this will also include sanctions against Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is serving a life-long prison sentence on İmralı Island.

“Öcalan issued commands and directives to the organization even throughout his 12 years of penal servitude. He has been barred from meeting with his lawyers since July. The organization has begun teetering and splintering off because he cannot send any messages to the organization through the medium of his lawyers,” Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said over the weekend while addressing deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during a party meeting in Kızılcahamam.

“Highly prominent persons within the PKK have been neutralized during the latest operations. We are going to reply to terror attacks by a thousand-fold,” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said, giving clues about future policies.

When these two influential ministers spoke their words, the Çukurca raid had not yet taken place and 24 soldiers had not yet lost their lives. It was understood the government had already made some important decisions prior to the raid in regard to the struggle against the PKK, but the surprise PKK offensive in Çukurca took place before the government even had a chance to enact those policies.

Tougher measures are now being put on the table following the Çukurca raid. I hear that Öcalan’s continued isolation is also among these measures. Since July, Öcalan was allowed to meet his family only once, while his lawyers have not yet been granted the chance. Öcalan’s easygoing and carefree days during the negotiations may yet give way to difficult times. Messages intended to be given through negotiations may now be given through different means. Indeed, rumors circulating in the backrooms indicate that a tougher policy of isolation may be adopted.

Öcalan’s lawyers were stymied from going to the island prison on such pretexts as “bad weather” or “a malfunctioning boat” since July. The deepening of the “meeting ban” and further insistence on this is impossible due to current laws, sources indicate. It is also rumored, however, that the Justice Ministry could intervene at this point and provide a legal basis for this situation.

It is a truism that different views are also voiced within the governing party. There are also those who propose providing more freedom to Öcalan, rather than isolating him, and force the PKK into lack of action. Their voices, however, sound a lot dimmer after the Çukurca raid.