World Bulletin / News Desk
A Turkish delegation has entered Iraq for the handover of officials kidnapped by the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The officials, who are being held in northern Iraq, where the PKK has bases, will be accompanied to Turkey by the delegation on Tuesday.
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.
The government is also keeping at the Habur border gate -- where the released officials are expected to enter Turkey -- a delegation including a deputy undersecretary from the Interior Ministry and high-ranking security officers.
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.
Kurt declined to comment on the visit and said the press briefing will be held when they are back from Iraq with the kidnapped officials. He said they are planning to return to Turkey later on Tuesday.
The delegation, which also included BDP İstanbul deputy Sebahat Tuncel, stayed overnight in Şırnak's Cizre district. However, Tuncel didn't join the delegation going to Iraq.
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, 14:46