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Statement Made by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit About How the Chief of the Terrorist Organization Had Been Brought to Turkey February 16, 1999

Distinguished Members of the Press,

I have a news for you and for our dear citizens. Since 3 am this morning, Abdullah Öcalan, chief of the separatist terrorist organisation called PKK is in Turkey. We had stated wherever he might be in the world, our state would be able to capture him. This promise of the state has now been fulfilled. The promise made to our martyrs’ mothers has been kept. Öcalan, who has been disowned by the entire world has now found himself in Turkey’s hands. He now will be held accountable before the independent Turkish justice for all that he did and for all that he forced others do for him. It is high time for everybody to realise that in Turkey one can go nowhere through terrorism and that no one can challenge our state.

This morning, I want to make a call especially to the young ones who fell in Ocalan’s trap or that of his men and supporters. I want to reach out to those young ones who have inflicted deep pain to mothers, fathers and to our nation by throwing themselves into fire in the mountains, in the caves: While you were made accessories to murders for years, while you were living in misery in mountain caves, the person you thought was your leader was living in luxury in posh mansions. Some of his collaborators were also living comfortably in certain European countries.

I call on to those who fell into their trap: You are now at a dead end. Surrender yourselves to the justice of the state. Then, of course our nation will make sure that you can benefit from the Act of Repentenence that is now before the Parliament. Re-unite with your mothers, fathers, and put an end to your separation from your loved ones. Use your power not to take lives of innocent human beings, but to increase the prosperity of our people hand in hand with the state. Say “enough” to those who waste your lives, who throw you right into the fire, who incite you to hunger strikes or acts of suicide.

Before I conclude, I would like to give you a brief information about his capture, but I cannot go into the details. I can say this: He was caught without anyone getting hurt, including himself. He was caught following our silent but intensive efforts that lasted 12 days in different countries and different continents. There were only 10 people in Turkey who knew about this operation. There was no leakage. Had there been the slightest leak, this operation would not have been successful. The operation has been accomplished thanks to a close and harmonious cooperation between the Turkish Intelligence Organisation and the Turkish General Staff. I extend my thanks and appreciation to them. A difficult job has been accomplished. The rest is now in the hands of the independent judiciary.

May God protect our nation and all humankind from terror and wars.

QUESTION: In which country was he last?

ANSWER : We are not going to go into any detail on this subject. I ask you not to be inquisitive about it.

QUESTION : Can you give us information as to his present whereabouts?

ANSWER : He is currently in Turkey, but he did not yet go to the place he will be kept. When he does, we will announce that too.

QUESTION: Is he in Istanbul?

ANSWER : For the time being, I do not deem it appropriate to disclose any detail.

QUESTION : Is he going to be interrogated by MIT?

ANSWER : No, no. This will be done by the authorised judicial authorities.

Thank you.