Kurdish Rebel Leader Declares Ceasefire

From jail, Abdullah Ocalan calls for peace
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2013 10:29 AM CDT
Kurdish Rebel Leader Declares Ceasefire
Some thousands of supporters demonstrate waving various PKK flags and posters of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, in southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 21, 2013.   (AP Photo)

In what he'd promised would be a "historic" pronouncement, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) called for a full ceasefire today, urging the PKK's armed factions to withdraw from Turkey. Massive crowds gathered in Diyarbakir, Turkey's largest predominantly Kurdish city, to hear Abdullah Ocalan's statement, which was timed to coincide with Kurdish New Year celebrations that would bring hundreds of thousands out to celebrate, al-Arabiya reports.

"We have reached the point where the guns must be silenced and where ideas must speak," Ocalan wrote. The PKK is expected to heed Ocalan's call, the AP reports; though he's been jailed since 1999, Ocalan still holds sway over the movement. Turkey, which has ignored or rejected past PKK ceasefires, responded cautiously. "The language was one of peace (but) we must see how it is implemented," its Interior Minister said. But there's reason for optimism: Turkey's prime minister has previously said that he's sticking by the peace process this time "even if it costs me my political career." (More PKK stories.)

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