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 PKK leader: Our guerrillas want to expand their territory

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PKK leader: Our guerrillas want to expand their territory  9.8.2012  

Murat Karayilan is the acting commander of the Turkey Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK and chairman of the executive council of the Kurdish Democratic Confederation (KCK). Photo: Reuters
August 9, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, The Kurdish region of Turkey,— Members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) abducted three Turkish soldiers near Diyarbakir this week.

According to the Dogan news agency, the Turkish soldiers were on their way home on leave when the bus they were traveling on was stopped and searched by PKK guerrillas near Abale village.

Diyarbakir Governor Mustafa Toprak announced that military authorities began a thorough search of the area for the abducted soldiers immediately.

“With help from the air force, a military search in the area has begun and is still ongoing,” Toprak said.

The incident comes after the area witnessed some fierce clashes between PKK rebels and the Turkish army in the past several days.

Earlier this week, Murat Karayilan, the acting leader of the PKK, said his fighters had crossed the Turkish border and positioned themselves 35 kilometers inside Turkish territory.

“In response to the Turkish military bombing our villages and terrorizing our people every day, our guerrillas want to expand their territory and fortify their positions,” Karayilan said.

Karayilan added that the idea of borders is history and that his group would not be abiding by any boundaries.

“Our guerrillas have taken position near Shemzinan. All the Turkish efforts to expel them have been fruitless,” he said.

Apart from a response to the repression of Kurdish people in the area by the Turkish military, Karayilan said that his group’s operations in the area “show our strength.”

Ten Kurdish villages have been under pressure to evacuate, Karayilan said, and PKK fighters are there to defend the people.

“I urge the people in those villages to stay united and face the Turkish military,” he added.

The leader went on to criticize Turkey for ignoring numerous PKK calls for peace, particularly between 1999 and 2004.

“Even back then, [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan said in Russia ‘there is no such thing as the Kurdish question if you don’t think about it,’” Karayilan said.

On Monday, the office of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani released a statement urging the PKK and Turkey to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“War and killings will not bring any positive outcome and will only complicate and deepen the problems,” read the statement, presented by presidential spokesman Omed Sabah.

Sabah said President Barzani asks all sides to declare a truce so that the doors to peace will open.

“Kurdistan Region President is concerned about recent clashes near Hakkari and condemns the PKK attacks that will have no result other than damaging the national cause and interests, and will become a barrier to any peaceful solution,” said the statement.

Turkey has expressed serious concern about PKK activities in the region, especially in the liberated Kurdish areas of Syria where local allies of the PKK, especially the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have positioned themselves close to the Turkish border.

Last week, Karayilan said that if Turkey crosses the border into Syrian Kurdistan, Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan would take up arms against them.

The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem, Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.

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.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish 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.

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.

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.

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