Lawyers visit Ocalan first time in eight years

Lawyers visited imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan on Thursday, it was announced on Monday — his first visit in eight years. Some of the team of lawyer read a letter from Ocalan later in the day that gave his view on the situation in Syria, Turkey, and Middle East.

Lawyers who visited Abdullah Ocalan read a letter from the PKK leader and three other party prisoners in Istanbul.

The letter said the Syrian crisis must be resolved on the basis of the Syrian constitution and its territorial integrity must be respected.

In regards to Syrian Democratic (Forces) SDF, the issue in northern Syria should be resolved in a democratic way within the framework of Syria, and the concerns of Turkey should be taken into account by SDF.

On HDP hunger strikes: Their health is paramount and they should no longer endanger their lives, according to the letter.

More broadly in Turkey and the region, the tensions should be dealt with in a political and logical way, adding that non-violence should guide way, the letter added.

His lawyers were permitted to visit him on Thursday, Roj News, media close to the PKK reported on Monday.

There will be a press conference at Taksim Hill Hotel in Istanbul at 3 p.m., Roj News added.

A number of Kurdish lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey have gone on hunger strikes, calling for Ocalan’s isolation to end.

Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, himself jailed, has called for the lawmakers to end their strikes, but to no avail.

On the same day the lawyers visited Ocalan, the HDP called on the international community to pressure Ankara to end Ocalan’s isolation.

“We call upon the international community to take initiative for overcoming the aggravating situation. Ending the isolation imposed on Ocalan will contribute to normalization of Turkey, re-initiate democratic dialogue, and hopefully resume the peace process,” a HDP tweet read.

On January 12, Mehmet Ocalan visited his brother, who was said to be in good health.

Although jailed, Ocalan is seen as an extremely influential Kurdish leader of the banned party. The PKK and Turkish government began peace talks in 2013; however, they stalled in 2015.

Since then, the PKK has continued its four-decade, sometimes armed, struggle against the Turkish state — seeking greater cultural, political and minority rights in the country.

The PKK’s headquarters is located in the mountainous border area, Qandil, in the Kurdistan Region on the border with Turkey and Iran.

Ocalan has been imprisoned since 1999 on Imrali Island after an international manhunt that concluded in Nairobi, Kenya. From 1979-1998, he sheltered in Syria until being expelled by Damascus.