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Sinn Fein demand release of Ocalan and return to peace talks

SINN FEIN reiterated its demand yesterday that the Turkish state release jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and urged the international community to step up pressure for a resumption of peace talks.

The party’s MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey welcomed the recent visits by Mr Ocalan’s lawyers – the first in almost eight years – but said his isolation “must end completely.”

Hunger strikes by as many as 70,000 mainly Kurdish political prisoners ended following a message from Mr Ocalan on May 26.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader has insisted that peaceful dialogue is the only way to resolved Turkey’s so-called Kurdish question.

Talks between Mr Ocalan and Turkish government representatives started in 2013 but abruptly abandoned in 2015 during an election campaign.

Mr Maskey said: “The recent announcement of the conclusion of the hunger strike by Kurdish political prisoners and activists, demanding an end to the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish political leader Abdullah Ocalan, is welcome.
 
“While Abdullah Ocalan has been allowed visits from his legal representatives recently, the policy of isolation against him on the Imrali prison island needs to end completely.”

Sinn Fein has called on the Turkish government to release Mr Ocalan, who has been held since 1998.

His release is seen as crucial to resolving a decades-long conflict in which thousands of people have been killed.

Mr Maskey called on the international community to support demands for a return to peace talks.

“Only the establishment of a credible, inclusive conflict resolution process will resolve the political problems in Turkey and bring about a just and lasting peace for all its citizens,” he said.

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