PKK's Ocalan visited by family in Turkish prison, first time in years

“Mr. Ocalan’s health condition is fine and we will be informing the public in more detail in the coming days.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), received a visit by his brother Mehmet Ocalan on Saturday for the first time in over two years in the Turkish Imrali island prison, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) officials said.

“Mr. Ocalan’s health condition is fine and we will be informing the public in more detail in the coming days,” HDP’s Co-chair Pervin Buldan said in a brief online statement her party released.

The family visit Ocalan had was the first since September 2016 as the PKK and HDP call Turkey’s limitations on his rights as a political prisoner a total isolation.

Turkish Ministry of Justice has not allowed Ocalan’s lawyers to meet with him since 2011 despite requests hundreds of times.

The visit to Imrali, the island in the Turkish inland sea of Marmara, comes ahead of the upcoming local elections in March and amid Turkey’s threats of an imminent invasion of Syrian Kurdistan where US troops, poised to withdraw, still operate along with Kurdish-led forces fighting the Islamic State.

The PKK is locked in a nearly four-decades-long, on-and-off war over Turkey’s suppression of Kurds’ culture, language, and demands for self-rule as Ankara and its Western allies label the latter a “terrorist group.”

Although convicted of charges of “high treason” by Turkey after his kidnapping with the help of CIA in Kenya in 1999, Ocalan was instrumental in initiating 2013-2015 peace talks between the PKK and the government of the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Unnamed Turkish state officials and HDP lawmakers, including the now-jailed Selahattin Demirtas, regularly sat down with him dozens of times to end the cycle of violence between Kurdish fighters and the Turkish army and come up with a political solution.

The negotiations and a period of ceasefire eventually collapsed when the HDP emerged with a sweeping victory in the Kurdish-majority provinces in the June 2015 general elections to deny Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) a single party government for the first time since 2003.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany