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 Turkey's PKK rebels free Kurdish MP

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Turkey's PKK rebels free Kurdish MP  15.8.2012  

Huseyin Aygun, a main opposition Republican People's Party lawmaker from eastern Kurdish city of Tunceli in SE Turkey (northern Kurdistan) gestures at his office in Ankara August 13, 2012. Photo: Reuters.
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August 15, 2012

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey's Kurdish region,— An ethnic Kurd lawmaker kidnapped by Kurdish rebels has been freed on Tuesday, local security sources told AFP, confirming an earlier report by private NTV television network.

Huseyin Aygun, of the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the southeastern Kurdish city of Tunceli (northern Kurdistan), was abducted Sunday after rebels stopped his car on the highway.

The lawmaker was released near Ovacik town in the Tunceli province, governor Mustafa Taskesen told NTV.

"He is in good health and expected to be in Tunceli after judicial procedures are concluded," the governor said.

Aygun said "My two-day adventure in the mountains ended tonight. The people who carried this out said they were doing it to spread their political message."

"They said they chose this path to resolve the Kurdish conflict and stop the bloodshed ... there was nothing life-threatening about this, it was a way of making a political statement." Reuters reported.

Aygun had refused to testify at a nearby police station and said he wanted to go to Tunceli, local security sources told AFP.

Turkish security forces launched on Monday an operation to locate the abducted lawmaker.

The operation came amid intensified clashes between Kurdish rebels and Turkish troops in the region.

Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels had confirmed in a statement they were holding the lawmaker and warned Turkey to abandon its rescue operation.

It marked the first time since PKK rebels began their battle for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdistan region in southeast in 1984 that they have abducted a member of the Turkish parliament.

August 15, 1984, is considered the start of the PKK's armed struggle

Kurdish rebels frequently kidnap workers, soldiers and local authorities to bargain for the release of captured rebels, and free most hostages without harm.

Aygun, 42, has in the past called on the PKK to abandon their violent campaign.

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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