The government has once again ruled out house arrest for the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan.
“We do not have a study concerning house arrests. We don’t have such an idea either,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ told reporters on April 29 in response to questions about Öcalan’s reported desire for house arrest.
Öcalan’s eagerness was most recently conveyed by his sister, Fatma Öcalan, who was his latest visitor in İmralı Island Prison, where he has been serving a life sentence since 1999. He was originally sentenced to death in 1999 following his capture, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002 when Turkey abolished capital punishment.
Speaking to reporters in Bursa upon her return from İmralı late on April 28, Fatma Öcalan said their aim was to commute her brother’s sentence to house arrest. “I suffered, I went there with difficulty. We want him to move out of there and to bring him under house arrest … I have voiced this demand and he has too,” she said, according to Anadolu Agency.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan disclosed in late 2012 that the country’s intelligence agency officials had launched peace talks with Öcalan with the aim of ending the conflict between the Turkish military and the PKK, which has killed more than 40,000 people and hampered development in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Öcalan called a ceasefire in March last year, which has been largely upheld. However, PKK militants halted their withdrawal to bases in the mountains of northern Iraq in September in protest at what they see as slow progress on reforms.