News / Europe

Jailed Kurdish Rebel Calls for Turkey Cease-fire

Pro-Kurdish politicians Sirri Sureyya Onder (3rd L) and Pervin Buldan (6th R) read the statement of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as they are flanked by other Kurdish politicians in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, March 21, 2013
Pro-Kurdish politicians Sirri Sureyya Onder (3rd L) and Pervin Buldan (6th R) read the statement of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as they are flanked by other Kurdish politicians in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, March 21, 2013
Dorian Jones
The imprisoned leader of the Kurdish rebel group the PKK has announced a cease-fire and withdrawal of its forces from Turkey. The announcement is part of ongoing efforts to end the nearly three decades conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state.

Ocalan's call for a cease-fire was made in a declaration read out to a massive crowd celebrating Newroz, the start of the Kurdish New Year, in Diyarbakir, the main city in predominantly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

"This is the time of politics, not guns," he said, adding that all guns should be silenced and the Kurdish armed units should be withdrawn outside Turkey.

  • Thousands of supporters demonstrate as jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan called for a cease-fire, Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2013.
  • Masked supporters wave PKK flags in front of a screen showing jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, Diyarbakir, Turkey, Thursday, March 21, 2013.
  • Thousands of supporters demonstrate as jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan called for a cease-fire, Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2013.
The cease-fire was widely expected, but the call for the withdrawal of Kurdish rebel forces is being viewed as equally significant. Experts say as many as 3,000 Kurdish rebels are based in Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made their withdrawal a condition for the start of formal talks to end the decades-long conflict.

Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK

  • 1978: Ocalan founds the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
  • 1984: Kurdish rebels begin an armed struggle in southeastern Turkey
  • 1999: Ocalan is captured in Kenya, brought to Turkey and sentenced to death.
  • 2002: Ocalan's sentence commuted to life in prison
  • 2012: PKK fighting intensifies, imprisoned Kurds go on hunger strike for two months
  • 2013: Ocalan meets with Turkish officials in prison, calls for cease-fire.
Erdogan launched his peace efforts last October. Logistically, questions remain how the fighters will withdraw. PKK leaders based in neighboring northern Iraq have called for guarantees that the withdrawing rebels will not be attacked.

​A similar withdrawal in 1999 following the capture of Ocalan by Turkish forces resulted in Turkey's army inflicting heavy casualties on the group. A senior minister, speaking ahead of the declaration, said a full PKK withdrawal could be achieved as early as the end of the year.

​It remains unclear what concessions the Turkish government is prepared to give. But Kurdish political leaders expect reforms to be part of current parliamentary efforts to write a new constitution.

The Kurdistan Workers Party ( PKK):

 
  • founded in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan
  •  Marxist-Leninist separatist organization
  •  took up arms against Turkey in 1984; more than 40,000 people have been killed since
  •  most of the violence has been in Turkey's southeast
  •  listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and EU
  •  has declared several short lived cease-fires
The PKK, along with legal Kurdish groups, are calling for greater cultural rights, local autonomy and amnesty for imprisoned Kurdish rebels and activists, including Ocalan. Senior Kurdish politicians have warned that the road to peace is still difficult, and fraught with the danger of provocations.  

Observers note that the issue of trust is still an obstacle. But both sides appear to agree these latest efforts offer the best opportunity for peace since the conflict, which has claimed over 40,000 lives, started nearly three decades ago. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by both the United States and European Union.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: patriot from: kurdistan
March 22, 2013 2:32 PM
Mister OCALAN is want to peace and a humanistic agreement since 1993 but turkish state dont want and killed kurdish civil. at 1999 turkish gornment make a agreement with mister OCALAN and mister Ocalan sey to kurdish guerilla go to odher side of border. but at time turkis army killed 800 kurdis guerilla who didint fight for peace and OCALAN s order. kurdis gureilla dont fight until 2004 but turkish gornment ddint do enything. they only kill and took in prison. one of chance for turkish governmen they must use it and the dirty war must end poor people sons musnt die. but we have problem with turkish people because they dont now anithing and they only saw on tv i think you know kurdish people situation. thousand kurdish people in prıson who are make polıtca...

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
March 21, 2013 3:48 PM
An end of the Turkish - Kurdish conflict, which has cost the lives of tens of thousands of mainly civilians, would be a great outcome for all. Let us hope that both parties can compromise and head forward to a better future for all. A fair and just solution is the way to reach an agreement; I hope it is not just another trick from Erdogan, to a way for a new try for entry into the EU. Real peace would be of great benefit for all in the region.

by: no comment from: turkey
March 21, 2013 3:46 PM
Firstly they are not kurdish rebels they are terrorists.
Secondly "nevruz" not start of the Kurdish New Year, it starts of spring.
In Response

by: patriot from: kurdistan
March 22, 2013 2:34 PM
they are guerilla tc army is terorist....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More