Turkey state media claims jailed PKK leader Ocalan urges HDP to be neutral in Istanbul elections

Turkey’s staunchly pro-government Anadolu Agency on Thursday claimed imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leaeder Abdullah Ocalan has called on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to remain neutral in the upcoming local elections in Istanbul on Sunday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s staunchly pro-government Anadolu Agency on Thursday claimed the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, has called on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to remain neutral in the upcoming local elections in Istanbul on Sunday.

Anadolu and private media aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration reported that sociologist Ali Kemal Ozcan had earlier in the day met with Ocalan at the Imrali island prison near Istanbul and returned with a hand-written letter in which the PKK leader asked the HDP to reverse its policy of supporting the Turkish opposition.

“It has come to attention that a climate burdened with social problems, polarizing and conflict-inciting rhetoric surrounding the Kurdish issue has arisen in Turkey. The HDP has taken a stance centered on democratic foundations in the face of such factors mentioned above created by the People’s Alliance and the Nation alliance,” the letter allegedly read, referring to Erdogan’s far-right electoral alliance and the opposition led by the Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP) respectively.

The purported letter by Ocalan, who has been incarcerated in the Turkish jail since his kidnapping by the US-backed Turkish intelligence in 1999, comes at a time when the HDP and its electorate firmly back the CHP mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in the re-do local Istanbul elections against Erdogan’s candidate Binali Yildirim.

“Considering that domestic, regional, and global issues are becoming more complicated, it is imperative to preserve this approach of a third way. As such the HDP’s democratic stance should not be a prop or side to the current election debates,” it went on, without mentioning Istanbul.

Ozcan is not a relative of Ocalan, nor one of his lawyers as the exact circumstances and judicial reasoning behind the alleged meeting remains unknown.

A figure with past remarks supportive of Erdogan, he appears to have been sent to Imrali island in the inland sea of Marmara by the Erdogan administration itself.

Ozcan, the head of Munzur University’s Sociology department in the Kurdish city of Dersim, showed the media a two-page letter by Ocalan during a press conference in Istanbul.

He further claimed that Ocalan had given a similar statement to his lawyers through Turkish judicial authorities on June 18.

Ocalan’s lawyers at the Istanbul-based Asrin Law Firm refrained from denying or confirming any of the allegations Ozcan made and Erdogan’s media reported.

Ocalan was under total isolation for years until the Turkish state allowed his brother to see him in January and later his lawyers for the first time in eight years last month.

Imamoglu won Istanbul on March 31 during the nationwide local elections with a small margin largely thanks to the HDP’s decision not to field a candidate and channel over a million of its votes to him.

The AKP’s weeks-long objections over alleged irregularities and media campaign that the opposition rigged the elections resulted in the cancelation of Imamoglu’s mayoral mandate and a re-run of the vote in Istanbul.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany