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 PKK vows 'violent reprisal' if Turkey attacks Syrian Kurds

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PKK vows 'violent reprisal' if Turkey attacks Syrian Kurds  17.10.2012  

Murat Karayilan, the acting commander of the PKK. 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. Photo: AFP   See Related Articles
October 17, 2012

QANDIL Mountains,— Turkey's Kurdish rebels will retaliate to any Turkish attacks on Kurds in war-torn Syria, the second in command of the outlawed PKK said in an interview published Wednesday.

"Turkey should stay out of this conflict and stop its scheming," Murat Karayilan, who heads the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the absence of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, told Swiss daily Le Temps.

"The PKK feels solidarity with all Kurds and we will support the Syrian Kurds. If the Turkish army attacks them... we will carry out very violent reprisals on Turkish territory," said Karayilan, who was interviewed in a PKK sanctuary in Iraqi Kurdistan mountains near the Iranian Kurdish border.

The PKK is considered as '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.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2003 vowing to to solve the Kurdish problem, and the two sides agreed to sit down at the negotiating table in 2009, only to see the talks break down two years later.

Fighting between the PKK rebels and the Turkish army resumed, and in recent months the separatists have ramped up their attacks, triggering large-scale military operations in Turkey's Kurdish region (northern Kurdistan) in southeastern Turkey.

On October 2, three Syrian Kurds were killed when Turkish troops fired across the Syrian border.

The three were members of the YPG, or "units for the protection of the people," a militia close to the Syria-based Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara says is linked to the PKK.

Many of Syria's more than two million Kurds have distanced themselves from the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the escalating conflict, fuelling suspicions among some of collusion with the regime.

Ankara, which has taken an increasingly strident line towards Syria, has accused Damascus of granting swathes of its territory in the north, including on the border to Turkey, to the PYD as a buffer zone.

Karayilan said meanwhile that the PKK "absolutely remains open to all negotiations, to all dialogue" with Ankara.

However, the Kurds had chosen Ocalan to represent them in negotiations with Turkey, and until the conditions of their jailed leader's imprisonment were altered "we will not stop our armed attacks."

Ocalan, he said, should among other things be transferred from prison to some kind of house arrest so he could lead such talks.

"This is the essential condition for stopping the violence," Karayilan said.

Ocalan was captured by Turkish agents in Nairobi, brought back to Turkey and sentenced to death in 1999, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country. By 2012, more than 45,000 people have since been killed.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey.  A large Turkey's Kurdish community, numbering to 23 million, openly sympathise with PKK rebels.

The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

The rebels have scaled back their demands for more political autonomy for Turkey's estimated 23 million ethnic Kurds.

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.

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