PKK leader Öcalan says BDP can take oath and return to Parliament
Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, (PKK), speaks in this 1993 file photo at his headquareters in Syrian-controlled Bekaa Walley.
A group of lawyers representing Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), announced on Friday that some 30 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who are boycotting Parliament in support of their six jailed deputies, can take their oaths after reaching an agreement with the government on the issue.
The BDP earlier announced that they would boycott Parliament in protest of the Supreme Election Board's (YSK) decision regarding Hatip Dicle and five other jailed deputies. The YSK stripped Dicle, one the six jailed deputies, of his mandate over a prior terrorism-related conviction after the June 12 vote, which led to outrage among the pro-Kurdish party and its supporters. A total of 36 independent deputies supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP were elected in the June 12 elections. However, six of the BDP-sponsored deputies are currently under arrest as part of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) trial.
Öcalan's lawyers gave details about the content of a meeting they had with Öcalan on Wednesday and said Öcalan had stated that he reached an agreement with the Turkish state and that the BDP deputies may enter Parliament. “I am not sure whether this problem can be solved or not. But the BDP should not fall into traps as it did before in the past. As we said before, they [BDP deputies] can take their paths after reaching an agreement with the government. This agreement should be certainly reached and it is very important. The agreement can be parallel to the protocols I previously presented to the state or they can make another one in accordance with their own circumstances,” Öcalan reportedly said.
Öcalan also reportedly presented three “protocols” to Turkish state authorities around one month ago, which included suggestions to solve the Kurdish question and offered a second chance for peace. Turkey's Kurdish question has existed since the first years of the republic, but it turned violent in 1984, several years after the establishment of the terrorist PKK. More than 40,000 civilians and security forces have been killed in clashes so far. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government believes that military measures will not be able to solve the Kurdish question and thus launched a “democratization initiative” in 2009. The government hopes to solve the question through peaceful and democratic means.
Öcalan's lawyers said there can be additions to his protocols such as a solution to the situation of Dicle, the release of the other five jailed deputies, lowering the 10 percent election threshold and changes to the Counterterrorism Law (TMK). “The Hatip Dicle issue and other problems may not be immediately solved. However, the things that the government and the state would do can be written in a text, which would be an agreement to solve these issues,” Öcalan reportedly said.
Öcalan's remarks signal that the BDP can take its oath and join Parliament soon as the pro-Kurdish party is known to be influenced by his opinions; the BDP has not denied links with Öcalan.
Öcalan's lawyers also mentioned what Öcalan described as a “Peace Council.” They said the PKK leader and the state reached on an agreement on establishing such a council to address the Kurdish issue. “The Peace Council will neither be a state body nor merely a civilian one. This council will work for a solution and peace. The Peace Council should be established within a month,” Öcalan was quoted as saying.
After this agreement regarding the “Peace Council,” Öcalan said, he withdrew his earlier remarks in which he said July 15 was the deadline for the state to finalize negotiations with him. Öcalan threatened last month that if negotiations bear no fruit, Kurds should seek their rights through war. His lawyers said Öcalan says these remarks are no longer valid now as negotiations have been finalized.
A fugitive at the time, Öcalan was captured in Kenya in February 1999 while being transferred from the Greek Embassy to Nairobi's international airport. He was initially sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in Turkey in August 2002. Öcalan has been serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara since his capture.
The PKK leader has recently claimed that he has regular talks on İmralı with a delegation of representatives of the Turkish state.