Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş has applied to the Justice Ministry for a meeting with leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, who has been jailed in a high-security prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999, local media reported on Wednesday.
In his request Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who is currently imprisoned in western Edirne province, requested a meeting with Öcalan via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS).
He said Öcalan’s “isolation,” among the many other wrong policies pursued by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, fed a chaotic environment and escalated tension in Turkey, where people are suffering from an economic crisis.
The “isolation” of Öcalan refers to his inability to speak with his lawyers for years.
“The public’s greatest expectation is that [the government] abandon these erroneous policies as soon as possible [and] provide an environment of peace and tranquility where poverty and unemployment will end,” Demirtaş added.
According to a report by the Mezopotamya news agency on Wednesday, HDP lawmakers Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit, Nuran İmir and Erdal Aydemir in addition to pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Saliha Aydeniz also applied to the ministry to meet with Öcalan at the prison on İmralı Island.
The developments come after 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), made a similar application to the ministry on Oct. 20. They haven’t received any response to their application so far, according to Mezopotamya.
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 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.