Öcalan and the entrance of Imrali Maximum Security Prison
The pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily newspaper published a very important interview regarding the situation in Imralı Island Prison and the state's approach towards Öcalan, several days before it was shut-down (by a Turkish court). The interview dated 22 August with Çetin Arkaş and Nasrullah Kuran, (who were both inmates in another section of the prison before they were forcefully moved) is quite striking and informative in terms of understanding the current conditions on Imralı and the threat against Öcalan.
Another article by Çetin Arkaş, published by Özgür Gündem before this interview, on 22 July, mentioned an anonymous letter sent to Öcalan, which threatened him.
Çetin Arkaş and Nasrullah Kuran were inmates on Imralı Island until 25 December 2015, which makes their statements about the situation there vital.
Developments over the past several years and some information brought to light by Arkaş and Kuran offers us insight into the dangers we face today.
29 November 2014. As the fiercest fighting in Kobanê was taking place, a group of ISIS members attempted to move inside the town centre after crossing the Suruç-Kobanê border through the Mürşitpınar border-gate. This group was repelled after heavy clashes. They later took shelter in the Turkish government's wheat silos on the border. The first images from the attack were released by Turkey's national news agency AA (Anadolu Agency).
It later emerged that a State Delegation had visited Imralı on the same day and during the same hours to hold talks with Öcalan. They had gone to give him the message, 'Kobanê has fallen'.
Yet, Kobanê was saved and talks with Öcalan continued until 5 April 2015.
Talks between the People's Democratic Party (HDP) Delegation to Imralı and Öcalan were obstructed after this date.
The above-mentioned interview gives important details regarding the period after 5 April, when Öcalan's aggravated isolation began. Accordingly;
A State Delegation meets with Öcalan on Imralı Island on 25 June 2015, following the 7 June general election.
On the same day (25 June) ISIS militants enter Kobanê town centre from the Turkish border and massacre 243 civilians, most of them children.
During this meeting, the State Delegation asks Öcalan to write a letter to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) to 'decrease tensions'. Öcalan tells them he will evaluate their proposal and later says to an official, "How much longer do you want me to write to Qandil (KCK/PKK)? Ask the delegation to come here for a meeting if the state has a project aimed at a resolution of the Kurdish question. If the state wants to resort to letter-writing or something else to delay the issue once again, they do not need to come, I will not meet with them".
About 4 months after this meeting, in October 2015, an 'anonymous letter' is conveyed to Öcalan.
Normally, all the letters sent to Öcalan pass through inspection and most are not given to him, however this 'letter' is. It is written by someone from Berlin who introduces him/herself as an 'oracle'. The letter says: 'Erdoğan was actually a good chance [for a resolution] you should have taken. You will die of 'natural causes' this year."
Çetin Arkaş summarises Öcalan's attitude as follows;
"Mr. Öcalan shared the content of the letter with us, and asked our opinion. We [six inmates] said we thought it was a threat. When Mr. Öcalan asked the prison administration about the letter, they said, "It escaped our attention. It was a mistake because we wouldn't have given you a letter with this kind of content". However we know that it is not possible for anything to escape one's attention in the Imralı Prison System. Everything is designed accordingly. The letter was meant to be conveyed to Öcalan.
Mr. Öcalan's response was: "It would be simplistic to take such things to heart. We are revolutionaries. I have already played my role till now and I will continue to play my role after death as well. Just like Che Guevera, I say 'Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome'. I know they are listening to our conversation, and I am saying this loudly to make sure that they hear me."
Several days after this letter on 10 October 2015, the day the KCK was preparing to declare a ceasefire, ahead of the 1 November snap-election, the massacre in Ankara killing 102 people took place. The declaration was delayed until the next day.
Several days before the 1 November snap-election, the State Delegation paid another visit to Imralı.
The delegation was headed by the Turkish state's Public Safety Deputy Secretary, who made the following threat to Öcalan:
"You are exaggerating the Rojava issue. We can have 300 jets take off and raze it to the ground if we want".
It is no secret that Turkey has wanted to suffocate the Rojavan Kurds' demands for rights and freedoms since the beginning of the Syria war. The massacres in Kobanê and support for ISIS were aimed at this. The recent Jarablus and Al-Rai operations launched in agreement with ISIS are being carried out as extensions of the policy mentioned by the Deputy Secretary.
Of course, there is nothing incomprehensible about the state policy that threatened Öcalan with crushing Rojava.
What is causing huge concern among Kurds now however is how this policy is being implemented on Imralı, especially after the 15 June 2016 coup attempt.
HDP officials have said that a helicopter controlled by putschists attacked Imralı Island and clashes erupted between them and soldiers loyal to the government around the prison on the night of the coup attempt.
It was also stated that the putschist soldiers then fled to Greece.
The Turkish government has not made a single satisfactory statement about this incident.
As 50 Kurdish politicians and activists went on an indefinite hunger strike in Diyarbakır (Amed) with a single demand: A direct meeting with Öcalan, Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ stated: "There is no problem regarding Öcalan's security".
He did not however, say that the soldiers who have fled to Greece, did not attack Imralı.
When a state that has sent ISIS murderers into Kobanê while at the same time having a meeting with Öcalan; a state that was reduced to sending an anonymous threat letter and threatened Rojava with 300 fighter jets says, "There is no problem about Öcalan's security", this is a reason for great concern, not relief.
Despite the Kurds' fundamental demands regarding Öcalan, the Turkish state views him as just a 'prisoner'. This mentality, which recently declared that there is, 'all-out war, and no resolution', will do whatever it can get away with in Imralı against Öcalan, in Rojava and anywhere else it can get its hands on.
Edited by Kurdishquestion.com
- Amed Dicle
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