Turkey vows to hunt down disarmed PKK rebels

THEY MAY be about to lay down their arms and end 15 years of bloodshed, but Turkey's Kurdish rebels insist their struggle is far from over.

Even as Turkey made clear it would give the retreating guerrillas no quarter, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) announced plans yesterday to follow in the footsteps of the PLO and the IRA, and recast itself as a political organisation.

"Political struggle is seen as necessary to make way for a democratic development," Osman Ocalan told a Pro- Kurdish newspaper in Turkey. "An armed struggle is not seen as vital any more."

Mr Ocalan is a leading member of the PKK and the brother of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is under sentence of death on a Turkish prison island. The PKK echoed Osman Ocalan in an official statement, announcing it would hold a congress to decide the details of its political identity.

"The force which gains weight and persistence is political struggle," said the statement. "Even some forces which resist this process ... will have to be part of it soon."

That is a clear reference to the Turkish authorities, which contemptuously dismissed Abdullah Ocalan's offer from the dock to negotiate peace if his life was spared. Since the rebels announced their new-found commitment to peace last week, Ankara has given no sign that it is any more inclined to negotiate with an enemy it says is on the brink of defeat.

The rebels may have announced that they will lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkey by 1 September, but Ankara has no intention of being so conciliatory.

"Putting down their arms and moving abroad will not save the PKK," Husnu Yusuf Gokalp, a hardline nationalist minister, said on Sunday. "We will grab them by the ear and bring them back."

The guerrillas' most likely destination is the wild mountains of northern Iraq, a Kurdish enclave outside the control of Baghdad. The PKK has several established bases there and yesterday announced it would end its hostilities against the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has allied itself to Turkey in an effort to rid its territory of the PKK.

Ironically, Turkey may have won the war with the PKK only to have the cup dashed from its lips. Unprecedented pressure is building on Ankara to recognise the rights of its Kurdish minority, including representations from its staunchest ally, the United States.

If the PKK can fulfil its promise to end the violence, it may have dealt Turkish policy a far more effective blow than any of its bombs.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, say DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin