Öcalan has won, the government has not lost
Since the hunger strikes started Sept. 14 by prisoners arrested for PKK and KCK cases ended Nov. 18 without any deaths, there is no harm from a humanitarian point of view in making a political review of the act.
It was not PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan who started this protest because he was in prison under political isolation. He was not able to see his lawyers. He was not in a position to give orders to anybody about a hunger strike.
However, it was Öcalan who ended the hunger strikes.
If deaths would have occurred during this protest, streets in Turkey would definitely have been stirred up. Maybe there would have been other losses of life; consequently, the country’s instability stemming from the Kurdish issue would have further grown. And moreover, Turkey’s international reputation would have been damaged.
Well, what has prevented these results from occurring?
As you know, it was the call that Öcalan sent through his brother Mehmet Öcalan, with whom a visit was arranged Nov. 16 to İmralı.
Mehmet Öcalan went in front of cameras on his return from İmralı and conveyed that his brother said. “I am stating here that hunger strikes should end. This protest has met its purpose.”
And in two days, Kurdish prisoners ended their hunger strike.
Even though this might annoy some people, the stark result is this: The intervention of Öcalan, who has been made to live under conditions of political isolation since July 2011, in hunger strikes has been positive from the angle of Turkey’s stability.
But, for Öcalan to come to the fore as a “stability factor,” it took a Kurdish movement that has been “deprived of Öcalan” to trigger the Kurdish prisoners and threaten the country’s stability first.
And at the end of the incident, Öcalan, this time, has made a call from İmralı as a “life saver.”
In the piece that was published in this column on Nov. 4 titled “Scenario with Öcalan,” I had said, “If desired, the hunger strikes of Kurdish political prisoners can be ended in one day. An ‘End it’ call from İmralı addressing them would be enough.”
Nevertheless, I had also mentioned that for the political isolation imposed to be considered lifted, it should be his lawyers who should go to the island for the visit. This would have meant the collapse of the İmralı leg of the politics of security.
However, it was not the lawyers that went to İmralı, it was the brother Öcalan. Meeting his brother who is his first degree relative is the ordinary right of a convict anyway for the founding leader of the PKK.
In short, the “political isolation” has not been lifted yet.
Didn’t Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tell journalists on his plane, “We were not open to his lawyers visiting him, but we said, ‘Legally, his family can visit any time’”?
Upon the question “In return for ending the hunger strike, was anything promised to him or any commitment made?” the prime minister answered, “We have no promises, etc.”
However, Öcalan said, “The protest has met its purpose.”
If what he meant was showing the world how determinant he himself is, then correct. But if the aim was the lifting of the political isolation, then what he said is wrong.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe the public will first be acclimatized and then the isolation will be lifted next.
For the moment, the result is this: The hunger strikes have ended without achieving even one of the apparent aims of the protest, however, Öcalan has won. And the government has not lost.