World Bulletin / News Desk
The Kurdish lawmakers that visited the island of İmralı on Saturday to meet with the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, were accompanied by two officials from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Pervin Buldan, one of the deputies in the delegation, has said.
Saturday's visit came as part of ongoing "peace talks" between state authorities and the PKK that the state believes may lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkey and their eventual disarmament.
Deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Pervin Buldan, Altan Tan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder set off by boat early on Saturday from İstanbul's Ataköy Marina for İmralı Island, where Öcalan is jailed. The deputies declined to make any statement to reporters before their departure. The meeting lasted for five hours.
Immediately after the meeting, Buldan read a short statement by Öcalan which defined the BDP delegation's visit to İmralı as a “historic step.” The PKK head also called on all parties to be extra cautious and sensitive during the peace talks. “The state and the PKK both have prisoners. The PKK should treat prisoners well, and I hope they can return to their families.”
Öcalan's reference to the PKK's “prisoners” includes both captured soldiers and government employees kidnapped by the militant group in recent years.
In messages posted in her Twitter feed late on Tuesday, Buldan said the BDP delegation was accompanied by two MİT officials, adding that she could not reveal the content of the meeting.
MİT officials have so far held three rounds of talks with the PKK. The most recent effort was in Oslo, where MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan headed a MİT delegation in 2010. The talks were ineffective and were interrupted in July 2011 when the PKK staged a fatal attack in Silvan, Diyarbakır.
Talks were re-launched a couple of months ago -- although this was revealed to the public only recently -- after the government determined that the jailed PKK leader still has power over the organization's supporters, as a call from him made to Kurdish prisoners who were on a collective hunger strike was enough to end the protest.
The first meeting between Öcalan and Kurdish politicians as part of the negotiations took place on Jan. 4 when Mardin independent deputy Ahmet Türk and BDP deputy Ayla Akat Ata visited İmralı. The latest visit by Kurdish lawmakers has strengthened hopes for ending the decades-long problem in the country, which claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2013, 11:33