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Pro-Kurdish party asks Justice Ministry for meeting with jailed PKK leader

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A group of politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has applied to the Justice Ministry for a meeting with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who has been held in “isolation” for more than 20 years, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.

The “isolation” of Öcalan, who has been jailed in a high-security prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999, refers to his inability to speak with his lawyers for years.

HDP co-leaders Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar, the party’s spokesperson Ebru Günay and Ömer Öcalan, nephew of Abdullah Öcalan and a member of the HDP Central Executive Board (MYK), applied to the Justice Ministry to meet with Öcalan at the prison on İmralı Island, Mezopotamya said.

Günay, who announced the development during a press conference at party headquarters, called on the Justice Ministry to respond favorably to their request for the meeting.

“… Because as everyone knows, dialogue with Mr. Öcalan makes debate about the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue possible,” she said.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

The PKK leader, who was given a life sentence for treason after Turkey removed the death penalty, has been barred from meeting with his legal representatives since 2011 with one exception and has had only limited family visits since the collapse of the settlement process in 2015.

The settlement process, which refers to talks between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the leadership of the PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue, began in 2012 and ended after two police officers were executed in southeastern Şanlıurfa province in June 2015.

On March 25, 2021 he was allowed a phone call with Mehmet Öcalan following rumors that he had died in prison. The PKK leader had previously met with his brother on Jan. 12, 2019 and March 3, 2020. His lawyers at the Asrın Law Office previously said they last spoke with their client on Aug. 7, 2019.

On June 17 Hürriyet daily columnist Abdülkadir Selvi wrote that Öcalan would soon be allowed to meet with a family member after nearly two years with no visits in order to “end the tension” allegedly created by the PKK and the HDP about his “isolation.” Selvi’s claim, based on rumors, came after police prevented a march to protest Öcalan’s isolation a few days earlier, detaining nearly 100 protestors in İstanbul and Bursa provinces.

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