Discord over house arrest idea for Öcalan
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily NewsA senior government member’s conditional support for house arrest of Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently serving a life sentence on an island in the Marmara Sea, has sparked a fresh debate in Ankara amid boosted efforts to solve the Kurdish question.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said the government could consider pledging house arrest for Öcalan only as a result of a broad agreement that would also oblige the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to drop its weapons. Arınç’s comment on the issue came after independent Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana suggested this route. “The approach reflected by Bülent Arınç is not in line with the judiciary’s approach. Justice ruled for a heavy life sentence against him [Öcalan], and the government chose the İmralı island prison in order to avoid future problems in the country,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. The prime minister also underlined that the government had never thought about the possibility of moving Öcalan from İmralı to another prison, and described Arınç’s view as “personal.” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay also stated that there was no governmental thinking over changing the prison in which Öcalan is being kept. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP),
however, left an open door on the idea, saying “This [idea] could be discussed if the representatives of four parties come together and if the representative of the Justice and Development Party declared it. If there was an agreement [between the four parties] then we have nothing to say.”