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time of politics, not guns," he said, adding that all guns should be silenced and the Kurdish armed units should be withdrawn outside Turkey.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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs