May 12 2018

Turkish nationalist leader calls for amnesty of non-political prisoners

The leader of a nationalist party in coalition with Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has called for a widespread amnesty in order to clear the country’s crowded jails of non-political prisoners, state broadcaster TRT said.

“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?” he asked on Twitter.

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 order it accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

“Our fates are clear. It is not for us to try to change them. But the fortunes of the prisoners of fate can be changed; we can take them by the hand and take them out of their chains and their dungeons. Is it not worth debating and talking about?”

Bahçeli’s amnesty echoes a call by presidential advisor Yiğit Bulut for a tax and legal amnesty earlier this month, suggesting the possibility that he is being used as a test balloon for a possible government policy.