Turkey’s top pro-Kurdish opposition party believes one of the direst consequences of the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to be the “deep crisis, that led to great loss and destruction”, as expressed in a statement on the anniversary of Öcalan’s abduction on 15 February 1999.
The strict isolation imposed on Öcalan, who demanded “rights, not privileges”, is also an injustice to society, especially to the Kurdish people, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said, pointing to dialogue and peace and breaking the cycle of conflict that has been going on for years as the only way to build democracy in Turkey.
“Isolation is a deadlock policy eliminating all the democratic gains that the Kurdish people have achieved through their struggle,” the HDP said.
Turkey’s aggression against North and East Syria is an integral part of the very same isolation policy, oppressing the Kurdish people and attacking their home spaces, according to the party.
“Isolation is also an international imposition against a democratic and peaceful resolution, and Turkey’s will to live together under equal and free conditions with its internal dynamics.”
Öcalan was forced to leave Syria on 9 October 1998 after Turkey amassed troops on its Syrian border, threatening the country with an invasion unless it deported the PKK leader. After spending four months seeking asylum in several European countries, he went to Kenya, where he was captured on his way from the Greek embassy to Nairobi airport.
Since Öcalan’s abduction and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment in Turkey, 15 February has been marked as an “international conspiracy day” by millions of Kurds.
Both the United States and Kenya had denied any “direct involvement” in the PKK leader’s capture, however, American officials accepted that surveillance information provided by the US gave Turkish commandos the chance to capture Öcalan with the help of Kenyan security officers.
Öcalan was sentenced to death on 29 June 1999, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without parole when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002. He is currently in İmralı Island Prison in absolute isolation having had any contact of any kind with the outside world since March 2021.
Kurdish groups have protested against Öcalan’s imprisonment and his prison conditions every year with rallies organised in Turkey and abroad. A march which had been planned to start on 6 February with the slogan “We are marching to Imrali for a solution” this year, had to be postponed due to the devastating earthquake that hit ten predominantly Kurdish-populated cities in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.