PKK extends unilateral ceasefire in Turkey till elections

14:11, November 02, 2010      

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The outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) on Monday announced that it would prolong its unilateral ceasefire with Turkish security forces that expired on Oct. 31 until general elections due next summer, the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported.

"Our movement ... has decided to extend the non-action process until the 2011 general elections in order to impose a democratic solution process and ensure that the parliamentary elections in Turkey take place in a healthy environment," the agency cited the PKK statement as saying.

The ceasefire statement came a day after a suicide bombing in downtown Istanbul wounded 32 people on Sunday. The PKK has denied responsibility for the bombing.

"It is not possible for us to carry out such an action at a time when our movement has decided to extend a truce process. We are in no way involved in this attack," the PKK statement said.

Earlier on Monday, a pro-Kurdish politician Aysel Tugluk visited Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, in northwest Turkey's Imrali Island to convince Ocalan, who retains an important impact on the PKK, to extend the ceasefire.

Listed as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the United States and the European Union, the PKK took up arms in 1984 in order to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.

Some 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the PKK for the past over two decades.

The Turkish government has launched a peace initiative and taken steps to improve the rights of its Kurdish population. However, the Kurdish movement in Turkey is not satisfied with the measures taken by the government such as allowing Kurdish-language television broadcasts.

The PKK and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the political representative of the Kurdish movement in the parliament, demand autonomy in the predominately Kurdish populated southeast.

"Extending the ceasefire does not indicate a possible bargaining between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the PKK," Omer Celik, AKP deputy chairman, told the private NTV news channel on Monday.

There is speculation that the Turkish government has been keeping talks with Ocalan in order to reach a solution for the Kurdish issue, but state officials have denied negotiations with terrorists.

Murat Karayilan, one of the PKK leaders in Kandil Mountain of northern Iraq said in an interview to daily Radikal last week that they wanted to extend the ceasefire if the government demonstrated a commitment to dialogue for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. He also said that PKK would no longer target civilians in its actions.

Sunday's suicide attack coincided with the expiration date of the PKK's last ceasefire raised suspicion of links between the incident and the PKK. Investigation into the identity of the suicide bomber was still going on.

Pro-Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk has criticized the bombing as "an action of provocation," noting that "someone pushed the button while there were efforts for a peace process."

Some experts said the PKK has some cells in Turkey that operate with considerable autonomy from PKK's headquarter located in northern Iraq.

"In the past some PKK groups carried attacks that were first denied by the PKK leaders, but the organization had to admit the responsibility of its cells later," Huseyin Yayman, an expert on terror, told Xinhua Monday.

He said the PKK's ceasefire statement did not mean there would be no PKK attacks until the elections, which are originally due in July but expected to be held in June as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants.

Source: Xinhua


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