PKK leader demands ‘direct contact’ with Öcalan

PKK leader demands ‘direct contact’ with Öcalan

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
PKK leader demands ‘direct contact’ with Öcalan

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) senior militant leader Murat Karayılan. REUTERS photo

The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), needs to be in touch with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to “ensure a solution” in ongoing peace talks, senior militant leader Murat Karayılan has said.

“Why shouldn’t a group of KCK members visit [Öcalan at his jail on İmralı island] if need be?” Karayılan was quoted as saying yesterday by the Fırat news agency (ANF), which is known for its close ties to the PKK.

“Our movement wants to overcome the problem and we are on the side of advancing the process, not leading it to deadlock. However, it takes 15-20 days to get in touch with the leader [Öcalan], as all steps for the meetings and contacts with him require the permission of first the Justice Ministry and then the Prime Ministry. This system makes the process advance very slowly. There is a need for a method like that used in the South African solution process. The isolation of the leader doesn’t allow a healthy communication and progress. A decision could be made more easily if the way followed in [Nelson] Mandela’s process is followed in Turkey as well,” he said.

Karayılan, who is also the KCK’s executive council president, met representatives of worldwide press institutions in Behdinan province of northern Iraq yesterday.

The KCK has yet not decided on the withdrawal of fighters from Turkish soil, he said.

‘Convincing all comrades’ remains a problem

Karayılan also suggested rumblings of discontent among the PKK militants, according to Al-Jazeera.

“The thinking of the leadership of the PKK is in line with Öcalan, but the PKK is a very large organization. We cannot say that the middle ranks all feel the same way. We are having a problem convincing all of our comrades.” Karayılan said.

“We have been trying to solve the issue peacefully since 1992 – this is nothing new,” Karayılan said. “We have announced cease-fires before and, on one occasion; we even withdrew our forces from Turkey. But we couldn’t get anywhere because of Turkey.”

Öcalan has been imprisoned on the island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara since his 1999 capture by Turkish security forces in Kenya.

For the first decade, he was held in solitary confinement, unable to communicate with the outside world. In his absence, Karayılan has headed the organization.

The PKK’s leadership claims that there are several thousands of fighters in the organization. Designated a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the world, the group reportedly has roughly 3,000-4,000 members based in northern Iraq, sheltered by the impassable mountains along the border.

Repeated Turkish raids on the mountains have failed to dislodge them from their hideouts. There are reportedly a further 1,500-2,000 in Turkey.

“If we have to leave the mountains, the PKK will continue its work to establish a free society,” Karayılan said. “Not all of our comrades are from Turkey. The others will go back to their respective parts of Kurdistan and continue the fight for freedom there.”