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TURKEY - Feb. 5 - PKK Urges Protests.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) urges the Kurds to launch a massive campaign of civil disobedience in a bid to force Ankara to grant them greater cultural rights. It says: "It is time for the Kurdish people to step up their democratic resistance. Our people should launch political action in each and every field". It says Kurds should initiate demonstrations, protest marches and strikes, shut down businesses and boycott schools because of the lack of any Kurdish language or culture being taught in the state educational system. It adds: "We call on the heroic Kurdish youth, Kurdish women, who are ready for any sacrifice, our beloved children and all sections of our people to participate in the campaign. The state has not taken any step towards the recognition of basic freedom for our people like broadcasting and education in their mother tongue". It restates its landmark 1999 decision to pursue a peaceful solution to a decades-old conflict. But it warns it would resume its military campaign if government forces move against it. (It said in Sept. 1999 that it was laying down its arms and withdrawing from Turkish territory to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict which has claimed some 36,500 lives since 1984, when the rebels began a bloody campaign for self-rule in south-eastern Turkey. Its declaration followed an appeal for peace from PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, on death row in a Turkish jail. Since then, fighting in the area has subsided and several thousand rebels have moved to the north into neighbouring Iraq. But the powerful Turkish military has played down the peace bid as a ploy, and has pressed for the unconditional surrender of the organisation, prompting repeated PKK warnings that it would resume its armed campaign if attacked. The government, meanwhile, has failed to introduce reforms acknowledging Kurdish cultural rights despite increasing EU pressure on Ankara, a membership candidate since Dec. 1999). It states: "The hand of peace extended by us and our leader should receive a positive response. Turkey should give priority to resolving the problem in peace, political dialogue and reconciliation". It says it would use its "right to self-defence" in the face of a military attack. "But our priority will be to progress on the road to a democratic solution and peace". (Last month, Ocalan also threatened renewed armed struggle against the government if it launches any offensive against the PKK, apparently concerned at Ankara's efforts to forge an alliance with rival Kurdish groups inside northern Iraq).
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Title Annotation:Kurdistan Workers Party
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Feb 10, 2001
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