FOLLOWING APO’S DIRECTION : Delegation on its way to accept Turkish prisoners held by PKK

March 11, 2013 – AFP / FIRAT NEWS / MESOP – ANKARA:  The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is expected to hand over Turkish captives to a delegation made up of pro-Kurdish party members on Tuesday as part of renewed peace talks with Turkey, the interior minister said.”We were informed of the fact that the delegation will go tomorrow (Tuesday)” to northern Iraq and the captives “will be delivered to us,” Muammer Guler told reporters in Ankara Monday.

“I hope they will unite with their families.”

Several lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are due to take kidnapped Turkish state officials from the hands of the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan where the group has safe havens and hand them over to their families on the Turkish-Iraqi Kurdistan border.A six-person delegation has left Diyarbakir on Monday to accept the eight public workers and soldiers to be released by PKK guerrillas in Kurdistan region of Iraq.

After spending the night in Şırnak today, Monday, the delegation will go to Iraqi Kurdistan region through Habur border gate on Tuesday. Families of detained Turkish officers are also expected to join the delegation on Tuesday. The delegation includes Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies Sebahat Tuncel, Hüsamettin Zenderlioğlu and Adil Kurt, as well as Human Rights Association (IHD) President Öztürk Türkdoğan, IHD Diyarbakır Branch Chair Raci Bilici and MAZLUMDER Chairman Ahmet Faruk Ünsal.

The release of Turkish prisoners held by PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) was brought to agenda following the message of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan who said during the most recent meeting with BDP deputies on Imralı Island that; “The state has PKK prisoners, so does the PKK have civilian prisoners. PKK should treat the prisoners well and I hope they will come together with their families soon”.

The Turkish soldiers and officials to be released by PKK are; district governor candidate Kenan Erenoğlu, sergeant Abdullah Söpçeler, specialist sergeants Zihni Koç and Kemal Ekinci, soldiers Hadi Gizli, Ramazan Başaran, Reşat Çeçan and police officer Nadir Özgen.

In a written statement on Monday, PKK main headquarters confirmed the names of the prisoners to be released tomorrow. Turkey’s spy agency rekindled peace negotiations with jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan late last year with the ultimate aim of ending nearly three decades of violence.

Both sides in the conflict have laid down conditions to show their commitment to long-lasting peace according to media reports after Ocalan’s rare meeting with three Kurdish lawmakers in February. According to the three visiting BDP lawmakers, Ocalan said both sides held “prisoners” and that he hoped to see them “reach their families.” His remarks were interpreted in the media as a message to the PKK to release its hostages, including Turkish state officials.