Osman Öcalan, brother of the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, has appeared on public broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), seeking support for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of a critical vote in İstanbul on Sunday, Turkish media reported.
TRT’s Kurdish TV station, TRT Kurdi, broadcast an interview with Osman Öcalan, who commented on a letter from Abdullah Öcalan calling on the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to remain impartial in the İstanbul vote.
A repeat mayoral election will be held in İstanbul on Sunday. The votes of HDP supporters will play a crucial role in determining the winner, either Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yıldırım or Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu.
On Thursday academic Ali Kemal Özcan shared a letter with the public from Abdullah Öcalan, whom he visited on İmralı Island, where Öcalan has been jailed since 1999.
In the letter Öcalan called on the HDP to remain impartial during Sunday’s vote although the HDP had previously announced it would support İmamoğlu.
In the interview Osman Öcalan reiterated his brother’s call to the HDP, saying İmamoğlu has promised nothing to the Kurds.
“İmamoğlu has not given any significant message to the Kurds. He has distanced himself from the Kurds as much as he can and has tried to stay independent of them. The CHP has no projects for the Kurds,” said Osman Öcalan.
In 2015, Turkey’s Justice Ministry sought the issuance of an Interpol red notice for Osman Öcalan and his extradition to Turkey from northern Iraq due to his links to the terrorist acts of the PKK.
TRT has attracted widespread criticism for allowing Osman Öcalan to appear on air.
Ümit Özdağ, a deputy from the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, said: “This man is a terrorist. Shame on you. You just insulted our state.”
Former opposition deputy Sinan Oğan, who wrote from his Twitter account, said while the TRT is imposing an embargo on opposition parties, it conducts an exclusive interview with Osman Öcalan, “who is the leader of the PKK and was involved in the killing of hundreds of our citizens and soldiers.”