May 13 2018

People's Alliance divides over amnesty for non-political prisoners

The leader of a nationalist party who formed with Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) the People’s Alliance for the upcoming elections on June 24, expressed his party’s determination for a widespread amnesty in order to clear the country’s crowded jails of non-political prisoners on Sunday, Etik Haber reported.

“Other than child abusers, rapists, women murderers, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members and Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETÖ) members, why does it not come to their minds to release those victims of fate dreaming of freedom from behind iron bars, counting their days in the dungeon, who have fallen from grace and whose loved ones are longing for them?” Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of National Movement Party (MHP) asked on Twitter on Saturday. 

His question came in response to calls for Kurdish presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş to be released from prison to allow for a fair campaign.

The PKK are an armed group that have been fighting the Turkish state intermittently since 1984, while FETÖ is the government’s name for the Gülen movement, a religious group it accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

“Mr. Bahçeli’s demand or offer is his own. Right now we, with our government, certainly do not have such a consideration,” president Erdoğan told to reporters before leaving for his visit to the UK. 

“If they had it on their agenda, we would already support them and share our positive opinion with them,” Bahçeli said as a response to Erdoğan. “However, since they do not have this issue on their agenda, we brought that important issue, which has a serious social dimension and has become an important need as it has turned into a bleeding wound, to our nation’s agenda. We are determined about this and we stand behind our words,” Bahçeli said.

Bahçeli also added that his and Erdoğan’s statements are not contradictory, since both rule out amnesty for those charged with terrorism.