100 PKK militants to lay down arms: Report

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 29.1.2013 – Some 100 militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are expected to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil in the spring as part of the government’s recently launched “peace process,” daily Hürriyet reported today.

Officials from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and high-profile names from the PKK, including Sabri Ok, a prominent member of the European wing of the PKK, are reportedly in initial talks concerning the recent process. In the upcoming days, senior officials from MİT will hold talks with PKK officials in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, to discuss the PKK’s “decision for no action,” the report said.

According to the planned timeline, the PKK will declare “no action” in February after an official call from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Due to wintry conditions, PKK militants will begin to withdraw from Turkish soil in spring. About 100 PKK militants will initially withdraw beyond Turkey after laying down their arms as part of the process’ confidence-building measures. During the withdrawal process, some NGO representatives will accompany the militants as observers. The government recently launched a new initiative to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the PKK and Turkish security forces. The recent initiative has been called the “peace process” or “İmralı process,” which refers to recent talks involving Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on the prison island of İmralı. In late December 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that intelligence officials were holding talks with Öcalan to convince PKK militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil. On Jan. 3, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Ayla Akat Ata and Ahmet Türk, independent deputy and head of Kurdish umbrella organization the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), were allowed to visit Öcalan as part of the process.

The co-chairs of the BDP and DTK recently applied to the Justice Ministry for a second visit to İmralı. The ministry has not yet responded to their appeal.