In his 1998 call, Abdullah Öcalan stated, “If this great violence upon us is stopped, even if it is limited, and if the basic human relations focus on human rights, democracy, and dialogue for solving political issues, I don’t believe there will be a people or organisation more eager for peace than us.”
01 September 2023 | Medya News
Back on 28 August 1998, Öcalan had announced a ceasefire with the hope of a democratic resolution for the Kurdish question on MED TV, broadcasting from Belgium. During the program, he also answered questions from 25 journalists from international media organisations and Turkey’s mainstream news outlets.
At that time, the program had created a significant buzz and received extensive coverage in the Turkish media. However, the PKK’s ceasefire, declared to begin on International Peace Day, and Öcalan’s peaceful resolution proposal, did not find a favourable response. Following this program, the PKK leader was soon forced to leave Syria and was apprehended by Turkish Intelligence in Kenya in 1999. He has since been detained on İmralı Island Prison.
Journalist Fehim Işık shared excerpts from the 1998 program on his social media account, providing analysis on the current conflict situation. Işık emphasised that the Kurdish issue remains one of the country’s most critical problems and expressed his belief that the Kurdish movement is ready for a resolution. He further noted his concerns about the government’s approach, stating, “We are facing a government that has not learned from the past, and a conservative stance following its lead. This must be overcome. As long as there is a will, there are no insurmountable barriers or unsolvable problems,” said Işık, echoing Öcalan’s 1998 call.
In his call, Öcalan stated:
“War is madness if it does not arise from a very important contradiction, a very important problem. Especially meaningless terror and violence should never be a part of human relations. The most challenging issue for us is being victims of violence that has its roots in centuries and could even lead to genocide.”
And he added:
“If this great violence upon us is stopped, even if it is limited, and if the basic human relations focus on human rights, democracy, and dialogue for solving political issues, I don’t believe there will be a people or organisation more eager for peace than us. Therefore, I hope that those who wish for it remain consistent and are not driven by secret calculations. I hope we are not deceived.”
Responding to a question from Turkey’s prominent mainstream journalist Tayfun Talipoğlu about the violence caused by the Kurdish conflict, Öcalan had said, “If there are circles to be blamed, we are probably the least responsible,” and added:
“We asked for identity. We asked for democracy; we asked for culture. Can a person live without culture? Can a person live without democracy? What do you expect us to do when even our name has been eliminated? Nevertheless, not because we’re afraid, yet, I am saying that the best way of life is living together.”
Even after his arrest, Öcalan reiterated his call for peace, and the ceasefire declared by the PKK in 1999 lasted until 2004. Subsequently, the official peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish state, which began in 2013, collapsed in 2015. Since then, the Turkish government has been increasing its crackdown on Kurdish circles.