Via Reuters — The jailed leader of the Kurdish PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, released a statement Saturday, calling for the Kurdish PKK to “abandon the armed struggle” against the Turkish government.
Öcalan, who has been imprisoned since 1999, is the leader of the PKK, a Kurdish political organization labelled as a terrorist organization by Turkey. In recent years, Öcalan has made positive calls for disarmament, and a shift towards encouraging the PKK move forward with a peaceful disarmament and democratization process in Turkey.
The nationally televised statement was read on behalf of Öcalan, by Sirri Sureyya Onder, a lawmaker from parliament’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Onder read the statement to Turkish parliamentarians and was accompanied by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan who said the move towards disarmament showed that “an important phase in the resolution process [had] been reached.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also welcomed Öcalan’s statement saying, “Of course calls are good, but what is most important is implementation. I hope [they] will stand behind these statements.”
In an attempt to end the bloody clashes that have claimed over 40,000 lives, President Erdogan has been risking national backlash by holding jailhouse talks with Öcalan, who has been in jail since 1999.
These jailhouse talks began in 2012, and have become increasingly important as President Erdogan and his party (AKP) faces elections and constitutional changes this summer, and are seeking the support of the 15 million Kurds living in Turkey.[Read more at Reuters]