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 Turkey seeks extradition of Kurdish PKK members   

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Turkey seeks extradition of Kurdish PKK members  7.3.2010 

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March 7, 2010

ANKARA, Ankara called Friday for the extradition from Belgium of two senior members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party arrested in a Thursday raid.

Belgian authorities raided at least 25 locations seeking leaders and members of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. At least 15 Kurdish separatists were arrested in the raid.

A report by the Belgian State Security Service in February said the Kurds, including militant groups, have a strong presence in European social organizations.

In Brussels, the report says, Kurdish supporters "carry out lobbying activities focused on Belgian and European institutions."

Turkish diplomatic officials Friday told the English-language daily newspaper Hurriyet that authorities have started legal procedures to seek the extradition of Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar,
www.ekurd.netalleged European ringleaders of the PKK.

Ankara said that while Turkish authorities played no role in the raids, they provided key intelligence to its European counterparts.

Italian authorities announced the arrest of 11 members of the PKK in February raids. French officials seized nine Kurdish militants in operations this week.

Since 1984 PKK took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan) which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Last August, the government announced plans to expand Kurdish freedoms in a bid to erode popular support for the PKK and end the insurgency.

Although the drive faltered amid a ban on the country's main Kurdish DTP party, street protests and PKK violence, Ankara has vowed to push ahead with the reforms.
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