Turkish prime minister, MHP leader trade barbs over Öcalan
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has reignited a row over recent cross-party efforts to end the Kurdish problem by implying that outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan may have been removed from his prison on İmralı island.
Bahçeli openly questioned Öcalan’s silence on efforts by the main opposition and ruling parties to form a parliamentary commission to deal with the Kurdish question.
“Might he have been removed from his prison on İmralı island?” he asked, hinting that Öcalan’s imprisonment conditions could have been improved as part of the dialogue.
The suggestion, however, brought a rebuke from the prime minister. “I wonder what [Bahçeli] would do if he saw with his own eyes that Öcalan is on İmralı?” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at his parliamentary group meeting yesterday.
“[Bahçeli’s question] could set an example for the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party] members as well,” Erdoğan said, referring to BDP lawmakers’ demand to see Öcalan. The BDP is primarily focused on the Kurdish issue.
Erdoğan indirectly denied Bahçeli’s claim and the Justice Ministry was not available to comment on the issue.
Öcalan is serving a life sentence on the prison island in the Marmara Sea under tight security conditions.
His access to lawyers was blocked by the government after a change in the law, eliciting severe criticism from the BDP. Lawmakers from the party have attempted to meet with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on the issue but have been rebuffed.