Öcalan’s TV keeps politicians busy

Öcalan’s TV keeps politicians busy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
No television set has ever provided such fodder for debate among politicians as the one given to Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with the political agenda bogged down with talk after Öcalan’s brother claimed Öcalan hadn’t really asked for a TV as the justice minister said televisions would not be given to convicts in absence of a request.

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli bitterly mocked the prime minister, saying he might shortly provide Öcalan with a computer so that he could begin communication with those, who Bahçeli alleged, may have helped him conduct murders.

The issue was first raised by the premier himself Jan. 11 when it was published that he had ordered a television to be placed in Öcalan’s room at İmralı Island prison. Up until then Öcalan had only been able to listen to the radio and read daily newspapers.

İmralı Island prison administration had decided to grant a television to Öcalan because he had received no disciplinary penalties in the last year, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said following a Cabinet meeting Jan. 14. Thus, a 42 inch LCD television was set in his cell on Jan. 12, he said.

As Arınç was speaking to reporters Öcalan’s brother, Mehmet Öcalan returned from a visit to İmralı Island and told the press that the “television was not [Abdullah] Öcalan’s demand.”

Further explanation on the issue came from Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on Jan. 15.

“No television is delivered as long as a convict demands it. There is no special broadcast, the same channels in the other cells have been given,” Ergin said.

Yet the fact that government officials have released statements that indicated the delivery of a television to Öcalan was not special treatment or a favor didn’t stop MHP leader Bahçeli from severely criticizing this practice.

“The prime minister even presented the İmralı murderer a television as a New Year’s gift and a consolation prize,” Bahçeli said, addressing his party’s parliamentary group.

“As a follow-up, the allocation of a computer to the chief-terrorist so that he can communicate with his former murder accomplices and, afterwards, his beginning to converse with the prime minister during nights should not be seen as a miracle or as something which cannot happen,” he said.

“Anyhow, everything is up to Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan,” he said.