BDP leader hails Iraq’s hospitalized Talabani

ANKARA – Hurriyet – 1.12.2013 – The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş has remarkably praised the leadership of Iraq’s Kurdish President Jalal Talabani who has been absent from political scene for months.

Demirtaş, delivering a speech at a youth congress for his party, held in the southeastern province Diyarbakır on Nov. 30, first underlined that the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, should be released for the sake of the ongoing resolution/peace process.

“Negotiations cannot be developed while treating a leader of the people like a hostage by keeping him in a hole. This is not an acceptable manner. The negotitaiton’s most important efforts in the upcoming period will be ‘freedom for Apo,’” Demirtaş was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency, using the nickname widely used for Öcalan, who is serving a life-sentence on the İmralı Island.

Noting Talabani’s posters were hung in the hall where Congress was taking place, Demirtaş said these are the days in which Talabani should be active in politics. If Talabani regains his health, he should contribute to the peace process, Demirtaş also suggested.

A group of young people from Iraq waved Talabani’s poster, the agency reported.

The resolution or peace process, also dubbed as the “negotiations,” refers to an ongoing government-led initiative aimed at ending the long-running Kurdish issue by ending the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the PKK.

Öcalan began talks with Turkish officials last year to halt the conflict that has left more than 40,000 people dead over the past three decades. In March, He ordered his fighters to cease fire. Last month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took the podium along with the President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani in a bid to revive the stalled process.

BDP executives have been careful not to make any moves that might be offend Barzani. However, they made clear such mutual support between the government of Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish government would not be helpful if they exclude the BDP. Last week, a spokesperson for the KRG government, Safeen Dizayi, told Turkish reporters he did not have information regarding Talabani’s situation.

“We don’t know details about Talabani’s health very well. Everybody is curious about Talabani’s health situation,” Dizayi was quoted as saying by the agency in response to questions, as he accompanied KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani during a visit to Ankara. Talabani has been away from the political scene since he was taken abroad to Germany to be treated and hospitalized. No detailed information has been delivered from his office since then, leading up to speculations.