Abdullah Ocalan Ready to Negotiate, According to his Brother – “Cleaning PKK”

05/10/2012  By HEVIDAR AHMED – RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Osman Ocalan, the brother of jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, said that any attempt at a solution with the PKK is futile without directly negotiating with its leader. Osman Ocalan said that his brother will make reforms in the PKK if he is released. “Abdullah Ocalan will clean the PKK of some people who advocate war, just as the Turkish government cleaned its military of some officers,” he said.

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that talks with Ocalan would resume “if necessary.”

In an interview with Turkey’s Kanal 7, Erdogan said that he had previously authorized the Turkish intelligent agency (MIT) to hold talks with Ocalan and PKK officials in Norway. “When Emre Taner was the head of Turkish intelligence, I sent him to Imrali and Norway. I took similar steps when Hakan Fidan became head of intelligence,” Erdogan said. “We are using this new mechanism now. Whenever we feel it’s necessary, we will use it.”

During an interview with the Turkish Star Daily, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani expressed support for the Turkish PM’s comments. “We welcome the recent remarks made by PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the resumption of talks with Abdullah Ocalan,” he said.

Barzani said that several initiatives must be taken prior to negotiations with the PKK in order to prepare the ground for a real solution. These include requiring the PKK to lay down its arms, both sides halting military attacks and putting an end to the arrest of Kurdish activists by Turkish police.

He also suggested that Ocalan’s prison conditions be improved and that there be no further verbal attacks by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) against the Turkish PM and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Finding a solution to the thousands of Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) members in Turkish prisons was the final point that Barzani mentioned as important to resolve before talks are initiated between the PKK and the Turkish government. Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of the BDP, has also expressed his support for Erdogan’s recent remarks and hoped the PM will act on his words.

Demirtas suggested that other political parties prepare joint projects in this regard in order to reach a solution.   After 14 months, the Turkish authorities lifted the isolation that had been imposed on Abdullah Ocalan and let his brother see him for the second time last month. The visit has drawn a lot of attention by the Turkish media.

“Several reasons have contributed to my brother’s isolation; mostly, the current situation in Syria. The Turkish government knows that Abdullah Ocalan has tremendous influence on the Syrian Kurds. Since the revolution started in Syria, the Turkish authorities banned him from making any statements about Syria’s situation,” said Osman Ocalan. According to Osman Ocalan, another reason for the isolation is that the Turkish government wanted to test the PKK’s leadership and see what actions they took without Ocalan’s guidance. “As the result of this policy, the PKK declared war against Turkey with the support of Iran and Syria,” he said. “Turkey failed in its plan to weaken the PKK and control the situation in Western (Syrian) Kurdistan.”

“Now, Turkey wants to use a different method to redeem its failure and that is to negotiate with Abdullah Ocalan,” he added.  Muhammad Ocalan, another brother of Abdullah Ocalan, also visited him in Imrali last month, but didn’t reveal any details about the visit, Osman Ocalan said that the visit took place around Sept. 25.

Osman Ocalan believes the visits will continue and that this will bring about a new situation. He also said that talks would end with an agreement between Ocalan and Turkey and resolve the Kurdish issue politically.  But he argued that, in order for the negotiations to have any results, the Turkish government must negotiate directly with Abdullah Ocalan. He said, “Holding negotiations with the PKK and BDP will bear no fruit. We all know that in the past, negotiations between Turkey and the PKK leadership in Norway were fruitless.”

“Ocalan is popular and the Turkish government is strong; both sides can reach an agreement,” he added.Osman Ocalan said that his brother has always believed in resolving the issues politically. “In 1993, the PKK was ready to lay down its weapons and launch peaceful negotiations with Turkey. But, the Turkish government and some people inside the PKK didn’t respond to his initiative,” he said.

He added that leftists inside the PKK, such as Doran Kalkan and Mustafa Karasu, will not lay down arms. However, if Ocalan is released and reaches an agreement with Turkey, he can remove the influence of these people in the PKK.

“In 1999, when Ocalan was in Italy, he wanted Jamil Baik, Doran Kalkan, Ali Haidar and Mustafa Karasu to leave the PKK,” the leader’s brother told Rudaw.

Osman expects that more visits and negotiations will take place at Imrali, especially by his family and by Leyla Zana. Zana spent 10 years in prison for speaking Kurdish when being sworn into Turkish Parliament in 1992. In June, Zana told Hurriyet newspaper that she believed Erdogan could solve the Kurdish issue. “As the family of Abdullah Ocalan, we want Leyla Zana to play a role, because she wants peace with all her heart,” Osman Ocalan said. He revealed that there indirect negotiations are already taking place between Zana and Ocalan.