Turkish Kurdish Rebels Threaten to End Ceasefire

TUNCELI (Reuters)–The leader of Turkey’s Kurdish separatists has threatened to end a ceasefire with Turkey because of Ankara’s failure to declare a truce or full amnesty–a news agency close to the rebels said on Monday. Last month–Turkey’s parliament approved a partial amnesty for the guerrillas–but the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has said that did not go far enough. Osman Ocalan–brother of jailed PKK commander Abdullah Ocalan–was quoted on Monday as saying by the Europe-based Mezopotamya News Agency that the PKK would abandon its unilateral ceasefire unless Turkey also declared a truce.

"On September 1 the ceasefire ends…If the Turkish government says it is for a ceasefire then the ceasefire will continue. This is the condition for a solution," he said.

The PKK–also known as KADEK–has waged a bloody campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey since 1984–killing more than 30,000 people. But fighting has largely ended since the 1999 capture of Abdullah Ocalan.

Under the partial truce approved by Turkey’s parliament–jail terms would be reduced for some guerrillas and amnesty would be offered for those who have not attacked Turkish targets. Turkey’s president must still approve the legislation.

Washington backed the partial amnesty–hoping it would help bring about the end of a standoff with PKK guerrillas–who have largely withdrawn from Turkey to northern Iraq.

But Osman Ocalan has rejected the partial amnesty and demanded all rebels receive full amnesty and be allowed to participate in political life in Turkey.

Turkey has long dismissed the PKK ceasefire as a ruse and has vowed to fight the rebels until the movement is stamped out. It keeps a few thousand troops across the border in northern Iraq to pursue the guerrillas.


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