16 February 2016
ANF - Istanbul
The international delegation visiting Turkey continues its talks as part of their goal to make efforts for the ending of the isolation on Kurdish leader Öcalan and the ongoing war in North Kurdistan.
The delegation conveyed to the Ministry of Justice their request for a meeting with Abdullah Öcalan in Imralı Island Prison, but haven't recieved an answer yet.
Members of the delegation held a press conference in Istanbul today where they called attention to Öcalan's role for the achievement of peace, and called upon the Turkish state to resume the resolution process of the Kurdish question and end violence.
Moosa: Öcalan is a very important political actor
South African Leader Nelson Mandela's lawyer Essa Moosa said the goal of their visit to Turkey was to see the current state of peace talks in Turkey, which began with an appeal by Öcalan on 21 March, 2013. He noted; "The resolution process has made progress according to the calendar determined by the state. Our intention is to see at what stage these talks are, and how we can contribute to them."
Regarding the delegation's demand to visit Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in Prison, Moosa said they had sent a letter to Ministry of Justice but had been told it wasn't received, upon which another letter was sent today. "Öcalan plays a major role in the peace process and it is important we meet him," stated Moosa.
Moosa stressed that Öcalan has been denied meetings with the HDP delegation since before the June election, with his family for 14 months, and with his lawyers for the past 5 years. Pointing to international conventions that grant every prisoner the right to meet their families and lawyers, Moosa said they have been disappointed by the Justice Ministry's abstinence from any effort to have talks with their side.
Describing Abdullah Öcalan as a very important political actor, Moosa remarked; "The Turkish Republic should find solutions to its internal problems in order to then deal with the problems of neighboring countries."
Moosa said the delegation wanted to meet the Minister of Justice to convince the government for the resumption of the resolution process. He highlighted; "It is not possible to get a resolution through violence. All similar problems around the world have been resolved through dialogue not violence, as was also the case in South Africa. During the process of Mandela's imprisonment, freedom forces didn't have the position to triumph over the regime. The situation in both countries and cases are very different, of course, but we can draw lessons from each other's experiences which do have common aspects. I believe the resolution lies in peace talks that must involve all parties."
Moosa's speech was followed by comments of other delegation members and a written statement, which highlighted the following;
The purpose of our visit was to see Mr. Abdullah Öcalan, who is jailed in Imralı Prison and isolated from the whole world for 9 months, to talk about the interrupted peace process in Turkey. As of February 15, it has been 17 years since the Kurdish people's leader was kidnapped and imprisoned.
In consideration of the concerns of non-governmental organisations over the isolation of prisoners, we invite the Turkish state to grant Öcalan a meeting with the 5 inmates jailed near him on the island, in order to relieve concerns about his health and safety.
Hundreds of soldiers, thousands of militants and hundreds of civilians including women and children have been killed in Turkey since 24 July 2015. According to Amnesty International Rights Group, the state of siege implemented by soldiers and special operation forces in Sur and Cizre have affected 200 thousand people and caused an obstruction of access to urgent basic needs such as water. Local residents were forced to live with the dead bodies of their relatives for days due to curfews.
The saddening developments in Cizre show the urgency of the re-initiation of peace talks and the need for Abdullah Öcalan, a perpetual voice of peace, to speak.
A humanitarian approach is needed for the ending of the ongoing conflict. Kurdish People's Leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan, whose remarks have always had an effect, is the spokesman of the Kurds and has a unifying role. If the Turkish state wants to come up with a solution to the Kurdish question, the first step for the realisation of this intention is to involve Mr. Öcalan in the peace process under equal circumstances.
We recall the "Only a free person can negotiate" remark by Nelson Mandela, who participated in the dialogue process while in prison, and became part of negotiations only after he attained freedom.
In order to make progress on the way to peace, it is crucial that the voices rising from Cizre be heard, and lawyers be granted authority to speak about Öcalan's imprisonment conditions. Despite the lack of an answer and permission by the Ministry of Justice, we will continue to seek ways for dialogue."
The international delegation is formed of eleven people:
- former South African Leader Nelson Mandela's lawyer Essa Moosa from the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative
- Independent author, copy editor, and graphic artist Janet Biehl from America
- Political activist, writer and publisher Dimitri Roussopoulos from Canada, co-founder of International Confederation for Disarmament and Peace
- Academic Federico Venturini from the University of Leeds, UK,
- Academic Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley from the University of Cambridge, UK
- Social justice activist Dr. Radha D’Souza from UK
- Andrej Hunko, member of the German Parliament, Bundestag
- Author Eirik Eiglad from the New Compass, Norway
- Edgar de Jesús Lucena González from the Venezuealan Parliament
- Father Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace, UK
- Francisco Velasco Andrade, former Minister of Culture for Ecuador.