Leak of İmralı record sparks controversy over its source

Leak of İmralı record sparks controversy over its source

Leak of İmralı record sparks controversy over its source

BDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder waves before getting on a boat to İmralı, where Öcalan is kept. REUTERS photo

The publication of the “official prison record” of a meeting between the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on Feb. 28 has sparked controversy and speculation over the source of the leak, as well as the source’s motivations.

By itself, the content of the alleged record of the Feb. 23 meeting between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and three BDP deputies is significant. What makes the publication of the record by daily Milliyet more significant is its timing. On the same day, BDP deputies were either in Europe or northern Iraq in order to discuss identical letters sent to their party, Kandil, where the PKK’s headquarters and training camps are located, and Europe.

Both the BDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) appeared to have implicitly confirmed the accuracy of the content. 

“The record, which was published in Milliyet, is the same record which was read out on Feb. 26 to members of the [BDP] Party Assembly by the delegation which visited Öcalan,” a senior BDP member, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Culture Minister Ömer Çelik, for his part, said the published record did not have any “official aspect.” “Most of these expressions are speculations by those who transmitted them,” Çelik said, assuring that there was no bargaining on the characteristics of the state or the nation. “This is a process for the laying down of the arms and providing societal peace.”

“As far as we have followed today, the meeting’s records have already been published in Milliyet. Actually, there is nothing which is so secret,” said BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan ahead of a trip to Brussels to meet with figures from the Europe branch of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the PKK.

Without questioning the accuracy of the record, AKP Diyarbakır deputy Galip Ensarioğlu called Öcalan’s discourse reflected through the record as “positive.”

“Öcalan is more reasonable then those who are outside. Öcalan is acting responsibly and is a chance for Turkey,” Ensarioğlu told the Daily News. “In this process, records may be published and there may be figures within both the state and the PKK who are against this process; who want to sabotage it.”

BDP deputy parliamentary group chair İdris Baluken was of the same idea as Ensarioğlu about the possibility of a sabotage.

“The leak of the Oslo talks sabotaged the process, too. At the time, the government blamed the PKK for the leak but the PKK strictly denied it. The publication of these records must have been done by those who want to sabotage the process. Whoever leaked the Oslo talks also leaked this and the government should find whoever it is,” Baluken told a group of journalists at Parliament in reference to a leak of secret National Intelligence Organization (MİT) talks with PKK representatives in Europe to online media in 2011.

“What matters is mutually assuming strong stances. There may be different provocations in the coming days, too,” he said.

Ensarioğlu, meanwhile, said the government would not give up ongoing efforts as part of the “resolution process” because of the leak. “There is a need to be stubborn, determined and sincere. We are hopeful for the process because we don’t have another chance.”

The Milliyet report suggested Öcalan said he would declare a “road map for peace” on March 21, while proposing that the PKK’s withdrawal should take place after a parliamentary decision. March 21, the date of Nevruz, is a spring festival for many people in the Middle East and one of crucial importance to Kurds.

Öcalan said he would lend his support to the presidential system on the condition that the system is similar to that of the United States and that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the president of that system.

Among many other items, Öcalan also commented on international politics and said Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was being manipulated by the United Kingdom.