PKK meeting leak stirs debate

The leaked minutes come from a meeting last week between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and Peace and Democracy Party members.

PKK meeting leak stirs debate

World Bulletin / News Desk

The minutes of a recent meeting between three pro-Kurdish deputies and the jailed leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were leaked to the press on Thursday, in what has been interpreted as an apparent move to sabotage the positive atmosphere around Turkey's latest effort to end the decades-long conflict that has engulfed the country's Southeast.

The minutes were made public on Thursday by the Milliyet daily, at a time when Turkey is going through a process often described as being very fragile but also having a great potential to end the conflict which has claimed more than 40,000 lives since the terrorist PKK's establishment more than three decades ago.

The leaked minutes come from a meeting last week between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members Pervin Buldan, Altan Tan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who were allowed to visit him on İmralı Island, where the PKK chief is serving a life sentence, as part of the government's recent move to settle the Kurdish issue through dialogue. The BDP deputies met with Öcalan in the İmralı prison on Feb. 23.

Questions emerged on Thursday as to who leaked the minutes to the press and why, with the parties involved in the process accusing each other. The original minutes of the meeting are reportedly longer than what appeared in the Milliyet daily, raising suspicions that certain parts of the minutes were purposefully leaked in order to sway public opinion against the ongoing talks. Sources say the government holds the BDP responsible for the minutes being made public and maintains that the leaked minutes were from the deputies' notes.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan complained on Thursday that BDP deputies have not been as tightlipped as they should have been during the peace process. “You should have noticed that I am trying not to make frequent comments on this issue. However, the BDP deputies unfortunately made statements about their notes [from the meeting]. I am not sure this is honest and healthy [for the process],” he told a group of journalists.

The BDP, however, denies having leaked the minutes, while agreeing that the move aims to sabotage the peace talks. “We have not given the minutes to the press. It is impossible for us to know whether the minutes were given by the government or others. It is the responsibility of the government to shed light on this,” BDP parliamentary group Deputy Chairman İdris Baluken said.

The most talked-about parts in the minutes, which appeared in Milliyet in full two pages, include Öcalan's full support for the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on a variety of issues, his support for Erdoğan in the short run while threatening him with “declaring war with 50,000 people” in the long run if the prime minister cannot solve the Kurdish issue and his claim that the faith-based Gülen movement has been working against both the government and MİT.

In the published minutes, Öcalan claims that the PKK “served ruling power to the government on a silver plate,” implying that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) owes being in power for 10 years to Öcalan. He also says the PKK could support Erdoğan's possible bid for presidency if the country switches to a presidential system. “We would support Tayyip Bey's presidency. But the presidential system [he would introduce] would need to be like that of the US,” Öcalan says.

According to the minutes, Öcalan wants the peace process to go on under his own control as he reveals his three-stage roadmap for the solution. “All of us will be free,” he says, if the peace process is successful. However, if the process fails, he threatens to wage a “war” with 50, 000 people against the Turkish state.

He accuses the AK Party of seeking “hegemony.” “The AK Party is after hegemony. But we cannot allow this,” he says.

"Colossal power"

Öcalan claimed there was a secret attempt to “overthrow” Hakan Fidan, the MİT undersecretary. He said journalists Emre Uslu and Mehmet Baransu have actively targeted MİT, adding that these journalists were supported by a “colossal” power.

Uslu and Baransu have claimed that the lethal bombing of civilian Kurdish villagers in Turkey's Uludere district on Dec. 28, 2011, was based on inaccurate intelligence provided by MİT.

He also said that Uslu “and the like” were trained in “Utah,” which he said is the “new” center for controlling secret groups inside Turkey. He suggested that the “colossal power” behind those targeting MİT is the Gülen movement, which he claimed is backed by the US.

Uslu, commenting on Öcalan's statements, told Today's Zaman that Öcalan's claims are a “typical” example of what is called “andıç” in Turkish -- a press or public statement made under orders or pressure from the military or a state security agency. Uslu argued that MİT or certain groups within that organization targeted him and Baransu for their outing of the facts behind the Uludere massacre. Uslu said Öcalan is being used by MİT to attack him and Baransu.

Baransu, also in comments to Today's Zaman, agrees that Öcalan's remarks are a typical example of andıç. He recalled that in the past, state agencies made additions to statements from Şemdin Sakık -- a former PKK leader -- to make some journalists appear as if they were affiliated with the PKK. He said MİT was using Öcalan to get back at him for what he wrote regarding Uludere. He also said it “meant something” that Öcalan was silent on the Uludere killings, a deeply significant matter for many Kurds. He also said the government was in the know about the press campaign against him, as he had recently been warned by a former interior minister to expect something like this.

According to the minutes, Öcalan also targeted Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and accused his movement of conspiring against the government and MİT.

Gülen was among the first figures who voiced support for the government's peace talks.

Oslo talks were also leaked

Recent talks between the government and the PKK were not the first move by the government to address the Kurdish issue. In September 2011, an almost 50-minute-long voice recording revealed for the first time secret talks between representatives of the Turkish government and members of the PKK in Oslo, possibly held some time in 2010, after Hakan Fidan was appointed the new undersecretary of MİT, replacing Emre Taner. The existence and content of the secret talks were also revealed by anonymous sources, which temporarily ended the talks. At the time, the development was interpreted as an attempt to influence Turkish public opinion against the government, which was trying to employ new methods to peacefully resolve the Kurdish question, which has existed since the first years of the Turkish Republic.

Last Mod: 28 Şubat 2013, 17:51
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