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Kurdish rebel leader in Turkey calls for disarmament congress

Sunday, March 01, 2015 - 01:38

Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan calls on followers to lay down their arms, a crucial step in Turkey's drive to end a 30-year insurgency. Mana Rabiee reports.

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Turkish lawmakers in Istanbul read an historic statement... ... a letter from the jailed militant leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party -- or PKK -- calling on his followers to lay down their arms. It's a crucial step in Turkey's drive to end a 30-year insurgency by Kurdish rebels. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) PRO-KURDISH PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY LAWMAKER, SIRRI SUREYYA ONDER, READING A MESSAGE FROM JAILED PKK LEADER ABDULLAH OCALAN, SAYING: "I invite the PKK to attend an extraordinary congress in the spring to make the strategic and historic decision to abandon the armed struggle." This jailhouse statement comes from Abdullah Ocalan, seen here on trial. His insurgency is over greater autonomy and cultural rights for Turkey's roughly 15 million Kurds. The government launched talks with him from jail in 2012 to end violence that has claimed 40,000 lives, mostly Kurdish. President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Saturday's announcement but cautioned that the rebels had failed to deliver on previous pledges. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH PRESIDENT, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING: "I have to stress that those who have to lay down the arms are the members of this terrorist organization. If they expect our security forces to disarm that is nothing but a daydream. It will not happen" In Diyarbakir, the largest city of the mainly Kurdish southeast, residents, too, welcome the news. (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) RESIDENT OF DIYARBAKIR, ONUR BERK, SAYING: "Disarmament is a must at this point. Bloodshed continues for 40 years. Enough is enough. People want peace." Before a disarmament congress can happen, there needs to be consensus on measures outlined in Saturday's jailhouse statement -- including a new constitution.

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Kurdish rebel leader in Turkey calls for disarmament congress

Sunday, March 01, 2015 - 01:38