Kurdish rebels to heed call for cease-fire with TurkeyTHE Associated Press | March 23,2013ANKARA, Turkey — Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy responded positively to a call by their imprisoned leader for peace with Turkey, which includes a cease-fire and the withdrawal of thousands of fighters from the Turkish territory, news reports said Friday.
Rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is engaged in talks with Turkish officials to end a nearly 30-year-old conflict, appealed to his fighters on Thursday to cease hostilities, in a major step toward ending one of the world’s bloodiest insurgencies. His message was read by Kurdish legislators at a spring festival attended by hundreds of thousands of Kurds.
Turkey’s Radikal newspaper and pro-Kurdish Firat News agency said Friday that rebel commander Murat Karayilan has indicated guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, would heed the call.
“Everyone should know that the PKK is prepared for both peace and war,” Firat News, which is close to the rebels, quoted Karayilan as saying. “On this basis we will, with determination, put into practice (the terms) of the process which was started” by Ocalan.
Karayilan, who has been leading the PKK from bases in northern Iraq since Ocalan’s capture in 1999, did not provide a timetable. Turkey’s Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said withdrawal could continue until the end of the year.
The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, has been fighting for autonomy and greater rights for Kurds in Turkey. The fight has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. Turkey announced in December that it was talking to Ocalan with the aim of persuading the PKK to disarm.
The Turkish government reacted cautiously to Ocalan’s call for peace, saying it was a positive development but that Ankara wanted to see whether it would be implemented by the rebels. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish security forces would cease operations against the rebels after the PKK fighters withdraw.
Kurdish rebels have declared cease-fires in the past, but these were ignored by the state, which had vowed to fight the PKK until the end. Erdogan’s government has admitted to having held failed, secret talks with the PKK in past years, but this latest attempt — held more publicly and with Ocalan’s greater participation — has raised hopes for a successful negotiated settlement.
On Friday, Erdogan said he hoped the initiative would bring lasting peace for Turkey.
“Today is the day for the guns to be buried, for the bloodshed to stop and for the tears to be wiped away,” he said. “We have gone through very painful days. We don’t want our children to go through the same.”MORE IN Wire NewsLOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California broke out the Trojan Marching Band on Monday ... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Dutch father of microbiology Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovers the existence of one-celled organisms; in 1967, The Doors are booked to play the Ed Sullivan show; in 1858, freedom fighter Dred Scott dies on this day in St. Louis.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: No money this year for western rail project, Lola Aiken memorialized in Montpelier, Supreme Court Castleton murder suspect will remain in jail, Shaftbury man fires shots from his AK-47 into neighbor's home.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for historic 13-day visit; in 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign nuclear reduction agreement.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City celebrates completion of its newest mural, on West Street opposite the post office, more than $2 million in federal grants will bolster Vermont's health centers, Patrick McArdle reports on pending sale of Vermont papers.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River as far as present-day Albany, Leo Szilard has epiphany waiting for the light to change, 3 kids report a West Virginia close encounter in 1952.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Who will run for mayor in Rutland next year? Has Bennington overcome its fear of twerking? Documentary 'Hungry Heart' packs the Paramount, and the city's Creek Path scores another million-plus dollars.