An interview with Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) founding leader Abdullah Öcalan before his capture and subsequent conviction in 1999 could have led to the closure of a popular Turkish television channel, journalist Fatih Altaylı said on Tuesday.
Kanal D “would have been shut down over the anti-terror law”, Altaylı said.
“Back then the situation was a little strange. But I had braved anything, I prepared the tape and handed it to the channel administration. I told them they could publish or not, as they wished,” the journalist said about the interview that took place in Bar Elias, Lebanon in 1996.
In the interview, recordings of which “should be present in Kanal D archives and in one other place”, Öcalan told Altaylı that the PKK had been in indirect communication with the government.
Necmettin Erbakan, the late leader of the Islamist conservative Welfare Party (RP), had sent “representatives” to meet with Öcalan during his term as prime minister, Öcalan told Altaylı. “We had meetings where we told each other where we stand,” the jailed PKK leader said.
“What Öcalan said in that interview was so valuable that he later wanted me to testify at his hearings,” Altaylı said. “But the court did not believe it necessary to hear my testimony.”
On his way back from the Lebanese town in the Bekaa Valley, where Öcalan stayed for years, Altaylı was questioned by Turkish intelligence. “All the deputy undersecretaries were there,” he said.
In an excerpt published by the Kurdish television Med TV, Öcalan is seen saying there are “many esteemed soldiers in the Turkish army”, but that Turkey’s “mentality of special war is meaningless, and vile”. The PKK leader said it would have been “good” if the Turkish army’s top brass had spoken out in favour of peace.
“I am always open to approaching a solution,” Öcalan said in the video.
On Kurdish representation, Öcalan said, “If there is a Turkish flag, Kurds having a few colours as their symbol is enriching. Turks should not deny Kurds, and Kurds should not deny Turks. Let us love colours, not a single one.”
The rest of the interview has not been made public, and the fate of the recordings remain unknown.