Jailed PKK leader calls for negotiation and reconciliation

The imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, says democratic negotiation must be used as a method to resolve problems, according to a statement by lawyers who saw him on Thursday.

The verdict for the meeting was given by the Bursa High Criminal Court after a total of 810 appeals filed since 2011, when Ocalan was banned from seeing his lawyers, according to the report by T24 news portal on Monday.

Lawyers from the Asrin Law Office issued a press statement on Monday regarding their meeting with Ocalan, who since his arrest in 1999 has been held mostly in solitary confinement in Imrali, an island prison in the Marmara Sea.

He has also not been allowed to see family members since 2014 and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers since April 2015.

The visit comes as hundreds of politically-jailed Kurds are on a hunger strike to break a policy of isolation imposed on the PKK leader by the Turkish state.

“A profound social reconciliation is needed in this historical period we live in. A democratic negotiation, far from every form of polarization and conflict, is strongly needed to solve problems,” Ocalan says in the written statement released by the lawyers.

Referring to the situation in Syria, Ocalan stressed that the problems of the region can be solved through soft power.

“The power of the mind, politics, and culture, not with instruments of physical violence, especially not with fighting a war there,” he added.

“We believe that problems can be solved with the support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through a perspective that is in line with the integrity of Syria,” Ocalan said.

He added that it is also crucial to be aware of Turkey’s sensitivity towards the region.

The SDF, an alliance of many groups led by a Kurdish militia, has continuously received support from the United States in its battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region.

The imprisoned leader also commented on the hunger strikes joined by thousands of people, especially Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, with the demand that the isolation imposed on him be lifted.

“Although I respect the resistance of those friends in and out of prison, it’s important not to take this protest to a point that would harm their health and result in death,” he argues.

“We value their mental, physical and spiritual health above anything else. We think that the most meaningful approach would be to improve mental and spiritual stance,” Ocalan says.

On November 7, 2018, Leyla Guven, a lawmaker of the pro-Kurdish HDP started what she calls “a partial and indefinite hunger strike” demanding that the isolation imposed on Ocalan by the Turkish government be lifted.

Thousands of Kurdish prisoners, activists, and politicians in Turkey and across the world participated in the protest.

So far, seven Kurdish inmates have committed suicide and 15 more began a ‘death fast’ (drinking only water with sugar and salt) almost a week ago.

“Neither we nor our client [Ocalan] have any information or foresight on whether the [lawyers’] meetings [with Ocalan] will continue periodically,” the lawyers underlined in the press statement.

Emphasizing that the imprisoned leader maintains a peaceful stance despite the conditions of the absolute isolation imposed on him, the lawyers also said: “We call on [Turkish] authorities to do their job and public to be aware towards re-establishing legal rights of Ocalan as soon as possible.”

Prisoner Commits Suicide Amid Increasing Hunger Strikes to Protest PKK Leader’s Isolation




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