Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of armed Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), is to make a “historic call” for peace with the Turkish government.
Ocalan is expected to reveal his proposals on Thursday, March 21, which could include a ceasefire declaration and a timetable for the stand down of PKK fighters.
Some, like Sukru Mersin, a Kurdish resident of Isanbul, feel this is long overdue:
“We’re like brothers,” he said. “‘This one is a Kurd, that one is a Turk,’ there is no such thing. I’ve been living in Istanbul for years and nobody has ever said to me: ‘you’re a Kurd.’ We don’t have that problem. But because of this terrorism issue, our villages are now empty, and if there’s peace, we’ll all be happy.”
Turkish officials have recently been holding talks with Ocalan who is serving a life sentence, in an island prison off Istanbul, for insurgency.
Asli Aydintasbas a Columnist for Turkish newspaper, Milliyet, said both parties are finally seeing reason after almost 30 years of bloody conflict:
“One (reason) is the realisation that you can’t win. It doesn’t mean you’ve lost, but you can’t win – and this goes for both sides.”
The conflict between the autonomy-seeking Kurds and the Turkish authorities has cost tens of thousands of lives since it first began in 1984.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by NATO, the EU and the United States.