News / Europe

Jailed Kurdish Rebel Leader Expected to Make Ceasefire Call

Selahattin Demirtas (front C), co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), lights a traditional Newroz fire during a rally to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz - with a picture of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan seen in theSelahattin Demirtas (front C), co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), lights a traditional Newroz fire during a rally to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz - with a picture of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan seen in the
x
Selahattin Demirtas (front C), co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), lights a traditional Newroz fire during a rally to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz - with a picture of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan seen in the
Selahattin Demirtas (front C), co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), lights a traditional Newroz fire during a rally to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz - with a picture of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan seen in the
Reuters
Kurdish politicians were ferried to a Turkish prison island on Monday where Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan is expected to issue a ceasefire call in a conflict that has cost 40,000 lives and battered Turkey's economy over three decades.

Ocalan, captured by Turkish special forces in Kenya 14 years ago, has been holding talks with the government since late last year. Truces have been agreed and failed before in the war, but this is the first time Ocalan and a Turkish prime minister have openly spoken of talks on a comprehensive settlement.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said he expected the withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] guerrillas to bases in northern Iraq to be completed by the end of 2013, Milliyet newspaper reported Monday.

In exchange for the ultimate disarming of the militants, Turkey would strengthen the political rights of the country's Kurds who account for some 20 percent of its population of 76 million, according to Ocalan's plan.

In an initial confidence-boosting step, the PKK last week released eight Turkish captives which it had been holding at its bases in northern Iraq for up to two years.

On Monday, a delegation of the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] made no comment before leaving to see PKK chief Ocalan on Imrali island in the Marmara Sea.

The island has long associations with the more turbulent chapters in Turkey's history. After a military coup in 1960, prime minister Adnan Menderes and two other senior ministers were hanged there.

The ceasefire call by Ocalan, whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after his trial on Imrali, was expected to be announced at celebrations now under way to mark the Kurdish new year festival of Newroz on March 21. Those rites have in the past been marred by clashes between protesters and Turkish security forces.

Mountains of Iraq

The PKK had originally fought for an independent state to be carved out of southeastern Turkey, but have more recently moderated their demands to greater autonomy and cultural rights for Kurds. In the course of the conflict investment in the area has slumped and poverty has increased, putting a strain - beyond the human losses - on the Turkish economy as a whole.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he seeks peace in the southeast, but will respond to any hostile actions by the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, as well as Ankara.

A BDP delegation previously met Ocalan in late February and since then the PKK leadership in northern Iraq and Europe have responded to his draft peace plan, which he was expected on Monday to finalize with a timetable.

Rebel PKK commander Murat Karayilan said last week the PKK supported Ocalan's peace efforts, but communicated its misgivings about the process in a letter responding to him.

The BDP is a legal party with 29 parliamentarians made up overwhelmingly of ethnic Kurds focused on Kurdish issues.

The PKK says it keeps about half of its 7,000 fighters in Turkey and half in northern Iraq, where it maintains its main camps in remote, nearly impassable mountains. Turkish authorities estimate the number of rebels to be lower.

Apart from hampering economic growth, the conflict has scarred Turkey's human rights record and has posed a major obstacle to membership in the European Union.

Ocalan is serving a life sentence for treason. He still holds sway over the PKK despite long isolation on Imrali and is considered a hero by nationalist Kurds.

Ocalan still pushes for safeguarding Kurdish rights, demanding a "truth commission" in parliament to examine Kurdish rights violations in Turkey.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ALİ from: TURKEY
March 19, 2013 5:37 AM
as everyone knows that usa supports terrorist organization by giving them gun,food,mines by ıts helicopters

by: ali yılmaz from: TURKEY
March 19, 2013 5:30 AM
Terrorist:rebel
Terrorist:fignter
Firstly, I advice you to learn terms.If someone attacks america you name him terrorist ,but the other countries like Turkey rebel.HYPOCRİSY OF CHRİSTİANS.GOD DAMN YOU.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs