Turkish gov’t intends to form ‘secretariat’ for Öcalan soon

Turkish gov’t intends to form ‘secretariat’ for Öcalan soon

Turkish gov’t intends to form ‘secretariat’ for Öcalan soon

Lawmakers from Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Sırrı Süreyya Önder, (L), İdris Baluken (C) and Pervin Buldan speak to the media after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan in Ankara, Nov. 17. AP Photo

A date will soon be set for the visit of a parliamentary delegation to the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, according to Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan. Speaking after a meeting with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Buldan also voiced her expectation that the government would soon take steps to form “secretariat team” for Öcalan.

According to the HDP’s proposal, five convicts currently imprisoned on İmralı Island along with Öcalan will be replaced by five other convicts, whose names have already been given to the government. These five names will work as Öcalan’s secretariat throughout the ongoing process, which is aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between PKK militants and Turkey’s security forces.

During the almost one-and-a-half hour long meeting with Bozdağ at Parliament, Buldan was accompanied by the other deputy parliamentary group chair of her party, İdris Baluken.

“We have stated that this issue is a part of the process,” Buldan said in response to a question about the replacement of convicts with a secretariat as part of the government-led peace process.

“He [Bozdağ] said there was no obstacle to other convicts replacing the five convicts here, and stated that a development on this issue will take place soon,” she added, reiterating that those five individuals would work as “secretaries” for Öcalan.

“These friends will be people who can assist Öcalan on every issue,” she said, while adding that they did not know whether the government would accept the names suggested by Öcalan and the HDP.

When asked whether a date for the next visit to Öcalan had been given, Buldan simply said, “We expect it to take place this weekend, but he [Bozdağ] told us that he would inform us.”

Öcalan, serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, has been in dialogue with state officials, the HDP and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), since at least late 2012, and is playing a central role in the process.

However, the talks have stalled since street violence in early October that claimed dozens of lives in country-wide protests against the government’s perceived inaction over the Islamic Republic of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) assault on the Kurdish-populated town of Kobane in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey.

Amid this stalling, no parliamentary delegation has been able to visit Öcalan since Oct. 22.