Jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan called Thursday for a ceasefire, telling his fighters to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkey. By this, the Kurdish leader raised hopes for an end to a three-decade conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
“We are at a stage where guns should be silenced”, Ocalan said in a letter written from his isolated island prison cell and read out by a pro-Kurdish lawmaker to vast crowds in the mainly Kurdish Southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
The much-anticipated Truce call was welcomed by Ankara, which nevertheless said it wanted to see action as well as words.
Ocalan, the founding leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said it was time for “politics to prevail, not arms , “as he called for armed Militants to withdraw from Turkey.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ocalan, branded a “baby killer” by many Turks, both appear to have staked their political futures on the renewed push to end the 29-year armed campaign for self-rule that has killed some 45,000 people, mostly Kurds. “A door is opened from armed struggle to democratic struggle”, said the 64-year-old Ocalan, known as “Apo” or uncle to Kurds who has been serving a life sentence for treason on Imrali Island off Istanbul since 1999. “It is not the end of the struggle, it is the beginning of a new one”, he added. “It is time for unity”. Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler gave a Cautious welcome to Ocalan’s announcement. “The language is the language of peace, we must now see it put into action”, Guler was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as saying . Erdogan has said he was putting his faith in the peace process “even if it costs me my political career” in the face of charges by the Nationalist opposition that he was guilty of “treason”. The peace talks were launched last year after a dramatic upsurge in PKK attacks against Turkish security forces. Ocalan’s announcement was timed to coincide with Kurdish New Year, or Newroz, and hundreds of thousands of people from across Turkey gathered for celebrations in Diyarbakir. From the early hours, people poured into the main square , adorned with red, yellow and green Kurdish flags, to hear Kurdish Lawmakers read Ocalan’s letter both in Kurdish and Turkish. A giant placard above the stage in Diyarbakir read “Democratic solution, freedom for our leader Ocalan” as thousands waved banners chanting “In peace as in war, we are with you, chief”!
Source: News Agencies