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“Notes from Imrali” gives rare insight into Turkey peace talks

By Rudaw 11/2/2016
Abdulla Ocalan (L), Sellahettin Demirtas (C) and Sırrı Süreyya Önder. Photo: HDP
Abdulla Ocalan (L), Sellahettin Demirtas (C) and Sırrı Süreyya Önder. Photo: HDP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The pro-Kurdish printing house Mesopotamia published a selection of recorded meetings at the Imrali prison in Turkey where the Kurdish leader Abdulla Ocalan is serving a life sentence.

The 470-page book entitled “Notes from Imrali” came to the bookstores in Germany in October 2015. It reveals details of some of the crucial meetings that took place between Kurdish and Turkish mediators who came to Ocalan’s negotiation table inside the notorious prison on Imrali Island, at the Marmara Sea.

Although in jail since 1999, Ocalan has maintained an influence over Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which regards him as their unrivalled leader.

The Turkish government under then Prime Minister Receb Teyyib Erdogan launched extensive, and often successful, peace talks with Ocalan in late 2012 that finally led to the two-year ceasefire which was broken last year.

As the ceasefire was put in place in March 2013, news broke out that the jailed leader would leave Imrali and possibly take part in PKK’s coming congress in which the party would disarm and join the political process in the country.

The book confirms the news citing Ocalan’s conversation with HDP co-leader Sellahettin Demirtas about his intention.

“They might relocate me to a better place this summer where I could receive and meet my guests. They may have started building the place by now. If so, may be those from Qandil (PKK leadership) would come and meet me there. And maybe the disarmament will be on the agenda for the coming congress. I need to take part at the congress,” Ocalan says speaking to Demirtas in March 2013.

The question about how influential Ocalan is on the PKK decision-making, the book offers a rare hint, which shows Ocalan’s impact.

In one of the meetings, a Turkish government mediator asks Ocalan to prevent PKK from “inciting” young people in the town of Cizire who were clashing with police at the time.

“Qandil (PKK leaders) must stop this game of walkie-talkies. We are not children. We hear what they tell the young people in Cizire,” the unnamed Turkish mediator is quoted as saying.

“For this matter I need a channel of communication with the PKK,” Ocalan replies.

“Now you are being unfair. You are running the PKK from here. We have allowed you to do so,” the mediator says.

According to the conversations in the book, Turkish President Erdogan has said his main disagreement with Ocalan remains on the question of Kurdish enclave in Syria.

The Prime Minister (Erdogan) said he would come to an agreement with Apo (Ocalan’s nickname). But there is only one red line, and that is Syria. He said he would not allow a Kurdish entity be established like the one in northern Iraq,” Kurdish mediator Sırrı Süreyya Önder tells Ocalan quoting Erdogan.

“And you tell him that we will not allow Kurds to remain in a centralized Syria, and that is our red line,” Ocalan has said. 


Biji Kurdistan | 11/2/2016
The Turks had to build a huge maximum security prison just to house ONE Kurdish man who was willing to fight for Independence and STILL they can't truly silence him or even extinguish his influence.
NATO,Europe,America,Africa and Asia do support Turkey in its genocide war on civilian Kurds,as the PKK is there to provide Turkey with the excuse to kill Kurds at will.This is the truth about the Kurdish tragedy being now played and no body wants to stop.
Ocalan the center of Ego | 11/2/2016
Mr Ocalan! You are an outdated leader like all the other Kurdish leader. Your ego is bigger than Kurdish State. From the western perspective or even Kurdish perspective you are not an intellectual. You are more of a mythoman. Your time is over. We want a united Kurdistan. You want kantons or Turkish democracy. Leave us alone. We want a nationalist and a selfless leader. Tired of biji Me, biji me! How about biji Kurdistan? In Kurdish protest there are more your picture than Kurdish national flag. Do we want Apostan or Kurdistan?
Zahra | 12/2/2016
A Kurd can be president or finance minister in Turkey. Turks marry Kurds and they dont feel any difference. Last 10 years Kurds got so many rights and had a succesfull representation in national assembly. If Kurds want to divide and cause a caos in Turkey this will not help anybody. We are same countries children .We need to be together to give better future to our children. Pkk Unfortunately they are used by other countries and Pkk management team doesnt want peace as they will be nothing after that. I feel sorry for young people in Pkk. They deserve better life . Nobody will leave forever. My Kurdish brothers sisters we are a team lets work together. I love all my country people. I want better life, education for all.
Biji Kurdistan Biji Bakur | 12/2/2016
@Zahra- Empty words are empty words. No full blooded Kurd has ever been President of Turkey the only one was half-Kurdish (Turgut Ozal) and he was poisoned by rogue Turkish soldiers before he could begin a peace process with the PKK. Kurds got many rights, but only after 30 years of bloody armed struggle,If you believe Kurds and Turks are a really a "team" then allow them full constitutional representation and self-governance. Turkey has always had the peaceful solution to their Kurdish "problem" but sharing power isn't in the minds of Turkey's ruling government.

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