News / Europe

Kurdish Rebels Halt Turkey Pullout

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters stand in formation in northern Iraq May 14, 2013.
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters stand in formation in northern Iraq May 14, 2013.
Dorian Jones
— The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has announced it is suspending the withdrawal of its forces from Turkey. The Kurdish rebel group blames the Turkish government for failing to introduce pro-Kurdish reforms, but has pledged it will continue to observe a ceasefire.

The PKK announced through a website linked to the armed group that it had ended the withdrawal of its forces from Turkey to their bases in neighboring Iraq. The rebel group said it took the move because the Turkish government has failed to introduce democratic reforms as part of the peace process.

The peace process began earlier this year when Ankara initiated talks with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan.  However, the Turkish government says it will only introduce reforms when the rebels withdraw all its estimated 3,000 or so fighters from Turkey.

The PKK says it will continue to respect a ceasefire. Ahmet Tan, a parliamentary deputy with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, says Kurds will pursue their demands through peaceful protests.
 
"If the government doesn't keep its promises, the answer is not taking up arms. There will instead be strikes, boycotts and rallies," said Tan.
 
The Turkish government was hit hard in June by widespread protests, mainly in Turkey’s western cities, over what protestors said was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's authoritarian manner of governing. Observers say in the fallout, Erdogan is reluctant to introduce pro-Kurdish reforms.

Turkey will hold local and presidential elections next year. Among the most contentious reforms called for by the PKK are mother tongue education and a general amnesty, both opposed by the prime minister.  

Asli Aydintasbas, a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, warns that widespread Kurdish protests could pose a threat to the government.

"They [Kurds] held a couple of demonstrations in eastern Turkey, just giving the government a hint of what they can do, which was enough to get them back to the negotiating table. Because, facing opposition on all fronts  - in Istanbul, in various cities - the government does not want to open another front," said Aydintasbas.

Renewed fighting seems unlikely. Soli Ozel, an international relations professor at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, says that the coming winter will make it hard for Kurds to battle.

"Already mid-October is too late to come back to violence. And we may have actually a kind of easy time until after Newroz [Persian New Year]. After that, if really serious progress has not been made, then we may see a resumption of hostilities, violence. But, at this point, I do not see [how] a return to violence would serve the PKK purposes," said Ozel.

Newroz, celebrated every March 21, is the traditional time for the PKK to restart hostilities. But for now, Kurdish leaders are banking on peaceful protests.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid