Kurd leader Ocalan calls for congress to end Turkey struggle

Kurd leader Ocalan calls for congress to end Turkey struggle

The jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has renewed a call for his fighters to end their armed struggle in Turkey.

In a message read out at a huge rally marking the Kurdish new year, Ocalan called for a congress to decide on abandoning the insurgency.

His Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been waging a 30-year armed struggle for Kurdish independence.

He called a ceasefire in 2013 and there are growing hopes of a long-term deal.

More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died in fighting for a Kurdish homeland in Turkey’s south-east.

Ocalan has been in prison since 1999, serving a life sentence for treason.

His message was delivered instead by Sirri Sureyya Onder, a pro-Kurdish politician who visited Ocalan in jail on Thursday.

 Ocalan’s statement comes as Kurds mark Newroz, or new year
 A pro-Kurdish politician said the statement was a “road map for the nation”

Hundreds of thousands attended the celebration in Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish-populated city in eastern Turkey, with many carrying images of the imprisoned leader.

A ceasefire announced by Ocalan in 2013 still holds despite ongoing mistrust between the two sides.

Stumbling blocks remain. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered some Kurds by saying the country “never had a Kurdish problem”.

Turkey is facing parliamentary elections later this year, with analysts suggesting Mr Erdogan’s comments were an attempt to shore-up nationalist support.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31998336

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