Deputy Chairman of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) Selahattin Demirtaş announced during a program broadcast live on NTV on Thursday that the DTP would not lend its support to the Kurdish initiative under existing conditions. “The Justice and Development Party's [AK Party] plan is aimed at eliminating İmralı and the DTP. There is no plan at hand for the DTP to support,” Demirtaş remarked.
The deputy chairman asserted that the governing party was threatening the existence of the DTP and Öcalan with the efforts it had exerted to settle the Kurdish question. Öcalan is serving a life sentence in a prison on İmralı Island, located off the coast of İstanbul.
The DTP has so far failed to distance itself from the terrorist organization, drawing the ire of Turkey and many European countries. The party and its supporters have kept complaining about the conditions of imprisonment of the terrorist leader, claiming the Kurdish initiative will not be successful unless his conditions are improved.
In the meantime, a delegation from the Ministry of Justice went to İmralı yesterday amid demonstrations across the country to protest Öcalan’s conditions of imprisonment.
He was the sole inmate until recently, but five other convicts have now been transferred to the island and three more will follow and he was placed in a different cell.
Öcalan’s lawyers claim his new cell is six-and-a-half square meters, compared to the old cell’s 12 square meters. The new cell’s window is reportedly high and cannot be looked through unassisted. Öcalan, in his latest meeting with his lawyers last week, warned that his new prison conditions are harming his health and he feels that he is at the bottom of a well.
Since his statement to his lawyers there have been demonstrations across the country to protest his new living conditions.
Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said that so far 153 people who had participated in the demonstrations had been detained. He also added that the aim of the demonstrations was to sabotage the “National unity and brotherhood project.”
Atalay is the coordinator of this project which is also known as the democratization initiative, launched by the government at the end of the summer to solve Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish question. The government chose “More freedom for everyone” as the slogan of the initiative and it frequently underlined that it will never consider discussing the issue with the PKK, saying the only party with a voice in this process is the nation itself.
However, Öcalan wants to be a part of the process and the DTP are also pointing out him as the partner of the government for the process. There are some suggestions that Öcalan and the PKK fear losing their powers and are using Öcalan’s new conditions as a pretext on which to demonstrate.
The chairman of the DTP Ahmet Türk on Wednesday at press conference portrayed Öcalan’s living conditions as the priority of the Kurdish people and urged the government to improve them immediately, warning that anything to the contrary would drag the country into clashes. Some DTP deputies also met with the minister of justice, Sadullah Ergin, on Wednesday. Ergin said that Öcalan’s prison conditions are fitting to the norms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe and are even above them.“However, if there are still complaints, we will examine them and if there is any basis, we will change them,” he said on Thursday. DTP deputy and member of the Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights Akın Birdal suggested the establishment of a sub-committee to examine Öcalan’s conditions of imprisonment.