Turkish gov’t wants PKK to disarm for bolder steps before elections

Turkish gov’t wants PKK to disarm for bolder steps before elections

Nuray Babacan ANKARA
Turkish gov’t wants PKK to disarm for bolder steps before elections

A group of people make sign of peace in a rally in the Nusaybin district of the southeastern province of Mardin as they demand the release of the jailed PKK leader Abdulah Öcalan from İmralı Island Prison, in this file photo. DHA Photo

The Turkish government has demanded that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) disarm before taking bolder steps in the peace process.

The government has recently been holding talks on planned moves in the administrative and legal fields and is demanding that the PKK lay down arms in Turkish territory prior to the Nevruz festival, which is marked on March 21.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan may announce a call for disarmament in February, sources suggested, after recent talks with İmralı and Kandil.

İmralı is a byword for Öcalan, who is serving a life-sentence in the İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea. Kandil is a byword for the other leaders of the PKK, whose headquarters are in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq.

The government has been holding a series of meetings to finalize draft legislation expected by both İmralı and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a key stakeholder in the stalled government-led peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-old conflict between the PKK and Turkey’s security forces.

One matter discussed in those meetings concerns taking steps for treating prisoners with deteriorating health conditions outside of prisons.

The government considers this idea possible through “administrative decisions.” Accordingly, without making any legal amendments and solely through eliminating a difference of interpretation of Article 16 of the Law on the Execution of Penalties and Security, which concerns postponing sentences due to illness, the government will make an administrative arrangement to resolve the matter.

The government has outlined that the flexible interpretation of Article 16 by the Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) will pave the way for the postponement of ill prisoners' sentences.

Nonetheless, if the government maintains that such a practice will lead to negative consequences for the civil servants involved, then a brief legal arrangement will be sent to parliament in February.

Government sources say no legal step other than a possible brief legal arrangement will be taken within the framework of the resolution process. All resolutions reached by the parties involved will be fulfilled through administrative steps.

Steps concerning other prisoners on the island prison or expanding delegations visiting Öcalan will be taken before elections scheduled for June.

Öcalan was moved in 2009 to a 12-square-meter solitary cell with a small yard, like the other F-type prisons in Turkey, on İmralı Island, after being seized in 1999.

In 2009, five prisoners were transferred to the island in line with recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).