BDP denies reports of PKK militants’ unarmed return to Turkey

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News 31.7.2013 – A senior Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmaker has rejected media reports that the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who pulled out to the bases in northern Iraq, would return to Turkey without arms in October.

“The second phase of the peace process has not been completed yet, how can we go on with the third phase?” BDP parliamentary group leader Pervin Buldan told the Hürriyet Daily News July 31. Media reports earlier claimed that Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK who is serving life on Imralı Island, said in his latest meeting with BDP lawmakers that the militants could return to Turkey starting from Nov. 15.

“Mr. Öcalan did not tell us such a thing,” said Buldan, who met Öcalan together with BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on July 21.

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and Ankara launched peace talks last October to halt a conflict which has killed 40,000 people. Groups of BDP lawmakers have met with Öcalan six times at the prison on the island. The first phase of the process, the withdrawal of the members of the PKK, started in April. While the BDP says the pull out is now complete, and it is time to move on to the next phase of the peace process, which includes a government-sponsored mixed democratization package, the Turkish government says the withdrawal from Turkish territory has yet to be completed. The third phase of the process is to secure the return of militants to their homes. BDP co-chair Demirtaş also rejected the reports, and quoted Öclan as saying “the militants can return unarmed even today if the necessary laws are approved and Turkey becomes a democratic country.”