KANDIL, Northern Iraq (Combined Sources)—The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) wants a mutual cease-fire and hopes this will be followed by peace talks with the Turkish government, Turkish media reported on Wednesday, quoting its acting leader, Murat Karayilin.
The PKK is no longer seeking a separate state, but wants equal rights for Kurds in a united Turkey, said Karayilin, who assumed power after the organization’s top leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by Turkish security forces.
“We now say ‘Democratic Autonomous Kurdistan.’ By autonomous, we don’t mean a federation. This leaves no need for redrawing borders and maintains the unitary nature of the state. The local administrative law should be changed and local administrations empowered,” he added.
Karayilin said the PKK uses armed conflict only for legitimate defensive purposes. “We are not the PKK of 10 years ago,” he said. “We do not engage in armed conflict using the classic methods. We use armed conflict within the limits of legitimate defense. For the last four years we have been in a limited war.”
Karayilin said around 17,000 extra judicial murders have been committed against Kurds and there is an ongoing policy of denial by the Turkish government.
According to Hurriyet, Karayilin said the PKK has also engaged in some improper acts and that is why a community-outreach project is needed, in which both sides have to forgive each other. He reportedly also called for a new constitution.
“Our desire is that Kurds should be able to live their culture freely,” said Karayilin, adding that a Kurdish conference like the one held recently in northern Iraq could help lay the groundwork for a future solution.
Lack of political will has left little resemblance between the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of today and the Erdogan of 2005, said Karayilin, referring to remarks the prime minister made during a speech that year in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
“The Kurdish problem is our problem too,” Erdogan said. “The state too has committed mistakes on this subject and they will be rectified.” Karayilin said no trace of that sentiment is left today.
“I can’t be optimistic,” he said. “There is no political will in regard to the Kurdish problem. This is a serious problem. Today even the generals are speaking differently, but where is the political will? Where is the prime minister who said those words in 2005? Where is the Erdogan who, when he was Istanbul mayor in 1994, prepared a Kurdish report and presented it to the leader of his party?” said Karayilin.
The PKK has been under assault by the Turkish military since 1984, when they began calling for equal rights. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives. Turkey, the United States and the European Union list the PKK as a terrorist organization.