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Ocalan's farewell to arms brings Turks hope for peace

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Ocalan's farewell to arms brings Turks hope for peace

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Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has called for a ceasefire, telling PKK fighters to lay down their arms and leave Turkey.

An estimated quarter of a million Kurds gathered in Diyarbakir to hear the message, which was delivered by Kurdish member of parliament Sirri Sureyya Onder.

Ocalan’s statement hailed a new era, saying “Let the guns be silenced and let politics dominate”.

Diyarbakir resident Ismet Capa said:“There’s nothing better than peace, nothing. But people will die unless Kurdish and Turkish mothers work together for a peaceful future.”

“We are waiting for better days, for peace. We don’t want any more clashes. We are looking ahead to better days,” said another local, who declined to give her name.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara, has been involved in a 30-year struggle for a Kurdish independent state. 40,000 people are estimated to have died during the conflict.

The current Turkish government, led by Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, has extended cultural and language rights for Kurds.