Mehmet + Abdullah Ocalan: Syrian Kurds Deserve Democracy, Nobody Should Interfere in Their Affairs

02/10/2012  RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The brother of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said that his health is in good condition but he is being kept in a narrow cell and has grown a long beard. Speaking to Rudaw, Mehmet Ocalan rejected reports by the Turkish media that his brother had refused to meet lawyers and family members.

Mehmet visited the PKK leader on Sept. 21. The last time Ocalan met with his lawyers was in July 2011, and he has not been also allowed visits from his family members for almost a year.

Rudaw conducted an interview with Mehmet Ocalan over the phone.

Rudaw: No one has been allowed to visit Ocalan for a year. How did the Turkish government allow you to meet with him?

Mehmet Ocalan: It was not the first visit for us. It was the second time in 14 months that we visited Ocalan, but this time around he was upset that we visited. He told us, “What you did is not right. You should not have visited me because they have not allowed my lawyers to visit for 14 months and you should have not visited either.”

Rudaw: When did you visit him?

Mehmet Ocalan: Pardon me, I cannot tell you when. But the Turkish government has not allowed his lawyers to visit him. They only let me meet the leader (Abdullah Ocalan) twice.

Rudaw: It has been said that Ocalan was poisoned and that he is not in good health.

Mehmet Ocalan: No, his health is not bad, but he has grown a long beard and his beard, mustache and hair were all mixed together. His hair and mustache have grown grey. His cell is very small and one cannot live there even for one month. Unfortunately, his place is very bad.

Rudaw: How much time did you spend with him?

Mehmet Ocalan: At first, they told us that we could stay longer but that didn’t last long. After 30 or 40 minutes, they said the time was up.

Rudaw: What did he think of the current clashes between the PKK and the Turkish military?

Mehmet Ocalan: Leader Ocalan said to let the war end and that no guerilla or Turkish soldier should be killed. He said the problems need to be resolved and nobody should try to cheat the other side. Leader Ocalan believes that if the Kurdish issue ends, then bloodshed will end too. He said that if Turkey continues fighting, it will face a very grim future. But if Turkey wants to, it can resolve the Kurdish issue through democratic means.

Rudaw: What did he think of the situation in Syria and Western (Syrian) Kurdistan?

Mehmet Ocalan: President Ocalan said that if Turkey adapts to the project that is being implemented in Western Kurdistan, then it will not have any problems in the future. But if Turkey does not adapt to the Kurdish people in Western Kurdistan, then it will be making a mistake and run into problems.

Rudaw: How did he talk about the future of Western Kurdistan?

Mehmet Ocalan: He said that the Kurds in Western Kurdistan deserve democracy and nobody should interfere in their affairs. He said, “We do not want Syria to be divided,” and that Turkey should not fear that.

Rudaw: Did he have any demands of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)?

Mehmet Ocalan: He asked the BDP to organize large-scale activities, not small ones. For instance, if they stage demonstrations, they should be large ones and not limited. But the activities must be restrained and in line with democratic methods.