World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish public officials kidnapped by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will be released and brought to Turkey on Wednesday, the PKK-affiliated Fırat news agency has reported, despite expectations that they were going to be back in Turkey on Tuesday.
A delegation entered Iraq at the Habur border crossing early on Tuesday for the handover of the officials, who are being held in northern Iraq, where the PKK has bases. The delegation includes pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Hakkari deputy Adil Kurt and Bitlis deputy Hüsamettin Zenderlioğlu, Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER) President Ahmet Faruk Ünsal and his deputy, Selahattin Çoban, President of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Öztürk Türkdoğan and İHD Diyarbakır Branch President Raci Bilici.
BDP deputy Sebahat Tuncel and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay have confirmed Fırat's report that the officials could be released on Wednesday, although it was earlier reported that they were going to be released on Tuesday.
Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, signaled during a meeting with BDP deputies on Feb. 23 that the PKK may release the kidnapped public officials. After the meeting, one of the deputies read a short statement by Öcalan that said: “The state and the PKK both have prisoners. The PKK should treat prisoners well, and I hope they can return to their families.” In the statement, Öcalan referred to both captured soldiers and government employees kidnapped by the PKK in recent years.
The officials the PKK is now holding were kidnapped on various dates in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Van, Muş, Bingöl and Şırnak.
District governor candidate Kenan Erenoğlu was kidnapped by the PKK in August 2011. Sergeant Zihni Koç has been in the mountains with the PKK for almost two years. Non-commissioned officer Abdullah Söpçeler was kidnapped in July 2011.
The brother of Reşat Çeçan, another kidnapped soldier, is an active member of the PKK.
Other kidnapped officials include Sergeant Kemal Ekinci, police officer Nadir Özgen and soldiers Ramazan Başaran and Hadi Gizli.Last Mod: 12 Mart 2013, 14:45