Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), continues to be one of the central issues of Turkish politics, with just one week left until Turkey’s critical polls.
Since last month, Turkey has been discussing various statements of politicians about a possible meeting between the Turkish government and Öcalan, who has been kept in an incommunicado state for 25 months.
Turkey’s minister of justice repeated Turkish government officials’ statements refuting such a meeting on Friday, saying those who claim otherwise have no concrete evidence.
“Now look, they are lying. I am saying that plainly, what they say about ‘there are documents’ is about technical delegations visiting there from time to time. Those are works delegated to them about the repairs, maintenance of the buildings there,” Minister Bekir Bozdağ said, referring to the İmralı island prison where Öcalan has been kept with three other inmates.
The minister accused the opposition of speculating over documents related to the visit of such technical delegations.
Meral Akşener, the leader of the centre-right Good Party, claimed this week that a member of the judiciary went to İmralı to meet Öcalan under a different name. The politician declined to give the name of said official.
Bozdağ called on the opposition parties to reveal the name of this person from the Turkish judiciary to prove their allegations. He also added that he will share documents on the technical delegations’ visit on Saturday, if the opposition avoids sharing their evidence.
Debates about the potential meeting between Öcalan and the Turkish government ramped up this week after Galip Ensarioğlu, a parliamentary candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from the Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır (Amed), claimed this week that the state officials routinely met Öcalan.
“Such meetings resume if Öcalan wants to contribute to the resolution, to contribute some way to Turkey’s unity, integrity, to the end of armed violence and the state believes in that,” Ensarioğlu said.
The politician, who represents a powerful clan in Turkey’s southeast, added that Öcalan’s isolation was the result of choices made by the PKK and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“They are the ones who nullified and sabotaged the peace process, who undermined Öcalan’s role,” Ensarioğlu said, referring to a short-lived peace process in Turkey that collapsed in 2015.
Önder Aksakal, the leader of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), which supports Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for 14 May polls, also joined the debate on Öcalan.
The political said Erdoğan could use his constitutional power to release Öcalan, during an interview with Sözcü TV.
The HDP on Friday condemned the government’s efforts to use Öcalan for pragmatist election gains.
“There are speculations over this grey area created by the government. This is a dirty policy, we refuse it. Neither the Kurds nor the Kurdish political movement can tolerate it,” Tayip Temel, the co-deputy head of the party said.
“Anybody who raises speculations on İmrali without questioning the isolation, the suspension of the rule of law, has ill intentions,” the politician added.
Temel’s statements followed those of Öcalan’s lawyers who this week objected to their client being the subject of politicians’ speculative debates ahead of the 14 May elections.
In the midst of this debate, the brother of the PKK leader and his legal guardian applied to the Turkish authorities on Friday to meet Öcalan.
In addition to Mehmet Öcalan and Mazlum Dinç, relatives of the three other prisoners in İmralı also lodged similar requests.