The Kurdish MPs from Turkey. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A general amnesty for fighters will not solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey, which must be resolved with greater democracy for the Kurds, said Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey.
His comments were aired by two Kurdish MPs in the Turkish parliament, Sirri Surreyya Onder and Leyla Zana, who recently visited Ocalan at his Imrali island prison.
“A general amnesty would not solve the Kurdish issue,” Ocalan was quoted as saying by Onder. “What solves the Kurdish issue is the guarantee of democracy for the Kurds in Turkey," he reportedly said.
Onder reported that Ocalan’s idea was for the Turkish government to sign a democratic contract, believing this would become a foundation for resolving other issues. He also is calling for a watchdog to supervise the peace process and ensure it remains on track.
“Ocalan has stated that there must be law and a legal framework to solve the Kurdish issue," Onder said. He added that Ocalan also favored the return to Turkey of PKK fighters at the Makhmur refugee camp in northern Iraq.
The two MPs said that Ocalan denounced the Turkish government for its reluctance to take bold steps toward addressing and resolving the Kurdish issue and the peace process.
Last March, from his jail cell Ocalan declared a ceasefire in the three-decade conflict with Ankara for greater Kurdish rights and ordered fighters to withdraw from Turkey into military camps in the Kurdistan Region. But the process has been largely stalled since then, with the PKK blaming Turkey for the impasse.
Following their visit with Ocalan, the two Kurdish MPs arrived in the Kurdistan Region with a written message from Ocalan for President Massoud Barzani.
According to a statement posted on the Kurdistan Presidency website, "Mr. Ocalan expresses his support for the peace process in Turkey and asks for the cooperation of all sides for this process to succeed. He also underlines the importance of coordination among all Kurdish sides."
At a news conference in Erbil, Zana said, "I am the witness of Barzani's struggle for peace in the North (Turkish Kurdistan) and Barzani's and Ocalan's views are close to one another."
She also hailed the role of the ailing Iraqi president Jalal Talabani in assisting the Kurds in Turkey. "Talabani was a window for the Kurds towards the world," she added, applauding Talabani, who has been in Germany since a stroke more than a year ago.
The PKK and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have been traditional rivals. One of their main differences currently is over the declaration of autonomy in Syria’s Kurdish regions by the PKK-backed Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Barzani has rejected.