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Jailed Turkish leader asks followers to lay down arms


Istanbul, Mar 1 (IANS) Jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan called on his followers to lay down their arms, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced Saturday.


"This is a historic declaration of will to replace armed struggle with democratic struggle," Xinhua news agency quoted HDP’s Sirri Sureyya Onder as saying at a joint press conference with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan and Interior Minister Efkan Ala in Istanbul following a 45-minute meeting.

"We call on all democratic parties to support this democratic solution," Onder said.

He added that "our main target is to reach a democratic solution to resolve the 30-year conflict permanently".

On his part, Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said that silencing arms would contribute to the democratic development.

"We are determined to conclude this (solution) process with full support of the public."

The Kurdish insurgent groups demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan, or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds inside the Republic of Turkey.

The main rebel group is the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and NATO.

The PKK’s military presence in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, from which it launches attacks on Turkey, has led the Turkish military to carry out frequent ground incursions and air and artillery strikes in the region, because the Kurdistan Regional Government claims it does not have sufficient military forces to prevent the PKK from operating.

The conflict has particularly affected Turkey’s tourism industry and has cost the economy of Turkey an estimated $300-400 billion.


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