Kurdistan clippings

September 28
Kurdish leader sentenced to prison

The leader of Turkey’s largest pro-Kurdish party in parliament was sentenced to 10 months in prison on Tuesday for disseminating propaganda in favour of Kurdish PKK rebels, state news Anatolian said.

The sentence against Selahattin Demirtas, which can be appealed, comes amid intense media speculation that the government and Kurdish politicians are engaged in diplomatic efforts to persuade the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group to declare a permanent ceasefire.

Conservative Turkish prosecutors regularly sentence Kurdish politicians and journalists on charges of disseminating PKK propaganda. Such cases are normally appealed against and final rulings sometimes takes months, if not years.

The predecessor of Demirtas’ Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was banned by Turkey’s high court in 2009 for its suspected links to the PKK.

The PKK, which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 to demand more autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast Turkey, called a unilateral ceasefire on August 13th.

Turkey has officially refused to negotiate for a settlement with the PKK, but Turkish media has reported that government and BDP officials have held talks to convince the PKK to lay down its weapons.

The PKK is labelled a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union. More than 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died in the conflict in the southeast.

Turkey urges US action against PKK

September 28, 2010

A delegation led by a US Army general currently serving as commander of the country’s forces in Iraq has held talks in Ankara over the problem of the outlawed PKK. Ankara has asked the US to put more pressure on the regional Kurdish administration to combat the members of the illegal organization, which has bases in northern Iraq

Turkey urged the United States on Tuesday to put pressure on northern Iraq’s Kurdish administration to take action against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, having grown dissatisfied with the regional government’s efforts to combat the group.

“What has been done so far has not satisfied us. The Kurdish administration has not been able to do what is necessary. We’ll ask the Americans to put more pressure on the [Kurdish administration in northern Iraq],” said a Turkish diplomatic source. “This is our standing demand.”

A delegation led by Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Army general currently serving as commanding general of the United States forces in Iraq, held discussions in Ankara on Tuesday with Turkish Land Forces Cmdr. Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu, Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Aslan Güner, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay and acting Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Selim Yenel.

“We focused on the action plan and its implementation,” Atalay told reporters after his meeting with the U.S. general. “Our complaint stems from the fact that the plan has not been able to be implemented. We have fair demands. I hope that after these meetings more serious steps will be taken.” The minister was referring to the lack of a government in Iraq, which he said constituted a vacuum and complicated efforts to find a solution to the terrorism problem.

“We have comprehensive studies. The most important dimension belongs to America and northern Iraq. Terrorism must come to an end,” said Atalay. “We are implementing the action plan. We have not made it public. Terror cannot go from one neighboring country to the other. A neighboring country cannot harbor terrorists. This is also stated in the Iraqi constitution.”

Turkey has recently intensified its diplomatic efforts to combat the PKK in coordination with Iraq, Washington and other countries in the region, including Iran and Syria.

Atalay met Sunday with the president of the regional Kurdish administration in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, who reportedly said he was ready to contribute to Turkish efforts to mitigate the terrorism problem.

Turkey’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, was in Washington recently and has plans to go to northern Iraq soon.

Diplomatic sources said there was a positive atmosphere for a solution to the PKK problem, referring to Turkey’s increasing diplomacy to convince the terrorist group to lay down its arms.

“There is a positive climate that should continue but we want to see action, not only words,” the source said.

The U.S. general’s talks also focused on an action plan agreed to by Washington, Ankara and Baghdad in April. Turkey’s nonstop diplomacy aims to keep alive the truce declared by the PKK, which is set to expire soon.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

PKK to extend cease-fire

The PKK may extend its ceasefire, according to messages sent by the organization’s imprisoned leader.

While the government was in talks with the northern Iraqi Kurdish administration to extend the inactivity of the PKK, the group’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, received a visit from lawyers, including Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, Co-Chair Aysel Tuğluk.

Following the meeting on Monday, Tuğluk spoke to the media, saying Öcalan had told them that “[the PKK was not] looking for a solution through violence.”

The comment has been interpreted as a message for the organization to extend its current unilateral cease-fire.

According to daily Milliyet, sources in northern Iraq have revealed that the PKK will hold a press conference within the next few days to announce an extension of the cease-fire.

Tuğluk said Öcalan insisted on a peaceful and democratic solution, implying that he was giving a message to the organization to extend the cease-fire.

The DTK co-chair, who had not seen Öcalan for five years, said prior to the meeting that she hoped “this meeting will be beneficial for our country and our rights.”

“We are not in a search for a violent solution. I insist on peace and a democratic solution. I’ve been working toward this for years. This is not a one-sided process. The government’s will on the matter is important,” said Öcalan, according to Tuğluk.

“We are closer to peace,” said Tuğluk.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek announced Monday that the soon-to-expire memorandum giving the military the authority to carry out cross-border operations was being brought to Parliament’s agenda for an extension.

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