HDP co-chair urges resumption of peace process, says Öcalan ‘is waiting’

HDP co-chair urges resumption of peace process, says Öcalan ‘is waiting’

HDP co-chair urges resumption of peace process, says Öcalan ‘is waiting’

Greeted by supporters, Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), smiles as he arrives at his party HQ in Ankara on June 9. AP Photo

Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is the appropriate person to call on militants of his organization to lay down arms, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said, urging for the resumption of talks in the stalled peace process. 

“[The person] who will make a call about [the laying down of] arms is Mr. Öcalan and he is waiting in İmralı,” Demirtaş told reporters on June 11, as he announced his party would imminently appeal authorities to pay a visit to the PKK leader, who is serving a life-sentence on the İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea.

“If Mr. [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu is willing [for] this, here we are; our delegation is waiting to go to İmralı. The HDP is open to every kind of support,” Demirtaş said, referring to the resumption of the government’s stalled peace process initiative aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and PKK militants.

“We will fulfill our responsibility; we promised our people peace. The resolution process needs to resume, this is the most important title. Our delegation will also make a statement after filing their application. We should leave aside pre-election competition and take on responsibility for the peace and serenity of society. We are ready to take a step for the [drafting of a new] constitution too,” he said.

Demirtaş referred specifically to the “10-article” agreement announced by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and his party in February. 

“Opening the 10-aritcle agreement in Dolmabahçe to negotiation, the PKK setting a date for a congress in regards to [the laying down of] arms and Mr. Öcalan’s making a call from İmralı for this aim,” he said, underlining the moves of all parties, including the government, should be “synchronized.”

“As the HDP, we know our responsibility in regards to the need to resume the process and we want to say we are ready to do more of that,” Demirtaş said. “We need to hear all of these from the AK Parti [AKP] once more,” he added.

Öcalan had issued his first call on the PKK to declare a ceasefire in 2013, while a joint press conference between the government and the HDP was held at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul on Feb. 28. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder read their own statements, while Önder listed 10 articles which summarized Öcalan’s priorities. 

Öcalan urged the PKK to convene an extraordinary congress to end the armed struggle against Turkey in a letter read out during the Nevruz celebrations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on March 21.

After visiting senior Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) officials in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq, members of a delegation warned in a press conference in Diyarbakır on May 19 that Öcalan was being “isolated” by the ruling AKP and putting the peace process at grave risk.