No way for change to Öcalan’s prison conditions: President Erdoğan
ANKARAAlthough senior government figures have recently hinted at improving the conditions of the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has severely objected to such an idea, saying the best possible opportunities have already been provided for Öcalan.
“He is sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment. This state has done everything that could be done to enhance his humanitarian conditions [in prison]. More than this is out of the question,” Erdoğan told reporters on board a plane returning from Kabul to Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 19.
His remarks were in reply to a question regarding recent reports about possibly changing Öcalan’s status as “chief negotiator” and moving him to another prison.
“There is no situation requiring allocation of a private villa. He already has two rooms, two televisions. They were given during our time of power. Besides, he has the opportunity to meet five others prisoners there. What else might be beyond this?” Erdoğan added.
He also rejected the possibility of assigning Öcalan as “chief negotiator” for the peace process, saying “such an idea is very dangerous, very wrong.”
Erdoğan criticized recent remarks from different sides of the Kurdish movement as “contradictory.”
“Recently something has changed. İmralı [island prison where Öcalan is jailed] is in one mood, while Kandil [the mountain range where the PKK is based] is in a different mood, and parliamentary representatives are too. With such a division, the position of those who stir up trouble in my country is clear,” he said.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala recently displayed a different approach from the president on enhancing Öcalan’s prison conditions.
Any steps could be taken if necessary, provided that those steps “completely serve a resolution of the problem and unless they are against our nation,” Ala said.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan also said the conditions of Öcalan’s imprisonment could be reevaluated and some improvements could be made over the course of the ongoing peace process.
However, Akdoğan also warned that it “would harm the process to talk about this issue now.”