Ending jailed PKK leader’s isolation ‘urgent,’ says HDP

Ending jailed PKK leader’s isolation ‘urgent,’ says HDP

Ending jailed PKK leader’s isolation ‘urgent,’ says HDP


Considering the ongoing clashes between the security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey, the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has said ending the isolation of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is an “urgent item on the agenda.”

“We took the initiative to end a series of hunger strikes, which we did after we were promised that Öcalan’s conditions would be improved,” said HDP Ankara deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder on Jan. 7. 

“Isolating Öcalan and leading his people and his organization to worry about his life security and health conditions is an invitation for war. The isolation of Öcalan means digging a ditch as big as the Marmara Sea between our social peace and joint future,” Önder said.

His remarks came at a joint press conference with two deputy parliamentary co-chairs of the HDP, İdris Baluken and Pervin Buldan. All three were frequent visitors of Öcalan at İmralı Prison as part of the long-stalled government-led peace initiative.

“Our call to the government is to fulfill what its promises demand. Current developments have placed the freedom of Öcalan as an urgent issue in front of us,” Önder also said. 

In November 2013, Öcalan’s brother, Mehmet Öcalan, visited Öcalan for the first time in months and conveyed a call from the PKK leader that led to more than 700 prisoners ending hunger strikes that were risking their health. In January 2013, two pro-Kurdish lawmakers met with Öcalan on the first visit to İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea by lawmakers since Öcalan was imprisoned in 1999.

Under an unofficial block on regular visits to Öcalan by his lawyers, his attorneys most recently met their client in July 2011.

The HDP delegation most recently met with Öcalan on April 5, 2015. On July 25, 2015, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said no political delegation would be allowed to visit Öcalan unless the PKK takes its armed groups out of Turkey.

HDP deputy Önder linked Öcalan’s situation to efforts to write a new constitution. 

“If you want a new constitution, then you should start by addressing these grounds of ‘demonization,’ which are created by the old constitution and laws under it,” he said.