Fate of second visit to Öcalan still uncertain

Fate of second visit to Öcalan still uncertain

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Fate of second visit to Öcalan still uncertain

Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk, who was in the first group that visited İmralı, would reportedly be a part of the second visiting group along with BDP deputies Ayla Akat and Sırrı Sakık as well, but the claims were swiftly denied. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

News reports over a future visit to the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that were swiftly denied on Feb. 1 have heightened already existing doubts over whether lack of communication between parties of “the peace process” are at a level that could eventually lead to stagnation in the process.

Several newspapers reported Feb. 1 that Ahmet Türk – head of the Kurdish umbrella organization the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and an independent lawmaker – and two deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Ayla Akat and Sırrı Sakık, were allowed by the Justice Ministry to pay the second parliamentarian visit to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan within a few days.

“Reports over a second delegation to visit Mr. Öcalan on İmralı are entirely false. There has been no information conveyed to us. We request that these kinds of reports not be accredited as long as no statement is release by our party,” BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said on his Twitter account.

Resolution process
However, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said “the resolution process is going on productively,” without giving further detail. 

The BDP’s Akat, whose name was cited as one of the future visitors, stressed that she didn’t personally receive such information from authorities. “Don’t ask us, but ask the Justice Ministry. Ask those who wrote the reports and let them explain where they got such information,” Akat told Hürriyet Daily News. 

The recent initiative called the “peace process” or “İmralı process” refers to recent talks involving Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on the prison island of İmralı. In late December 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that intelligence officials were holding talks with Öcalan to convince PKK militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil. On Jan. 3, the BDP’s Akat and Türk were allowed to visit Öcalan as part of the process.

Recently, Turkish media reported that Türk and BDP co-chair Demirtaş were set to pay a second visit to İmralı, but the visit did not occur after the Justice Ministry reportedly refused to grant permission due to the government’s unease over Türk’s criticism of military operations.

Deputy chairman and spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Hüseyin Çelik said Jan. 23 that BDP lawmakers’ second visit to İmralı island might take place soon, stressing that the “peace process” was not deadlocked. 

“That the second visit to İmralı island by the BDP lawmakers hasn’t happened does not mean this visit will not take place. It does not mean that the [peace] process is deadlocked, either. We will not be the party who drags this process into a deadlock,” Çelik told reporters at the time.