PKK declares formal ceasefire with Turkey

23 March 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH REUTERS, İSTANBUL – The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist group declared a “formal and clear ceasefire” with Turkey on Saturday after its jailed leader ordered an end to the decades-long armed campaign for autonomy.

“Since March 21 and from now on, we as a movement, as the PKK … officially and clearly declare a ceasefire,” Murat Karayılan, the PKK’s field commander, said in a video address posted on the website of the PKK-affiliated Fırat news agency (ANF). Abdullah Öcalan, held in an island prison since his 1999 conviction for treason, called on the PKK on March 21, the day of the Kurdish new year festival of Nevruz, to cease fire and withdraw from Turkey. Öcalan has been in negotiations with state officials since October to end the conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives since it began in 1984.

Karayılan’s declaration, made to a crowd of Kurds gathered in Bonn, Germany, to celebrate the new year, had been expected but was still an important sign that the outlawed PKK will abide by Öcalan’s orders. Öcalan still wields enormous clout over PKK terrorists as well as millions of nationalist Kurds. Karaylan is based in the remote mountains of northern Iraq from where he directs the PKK violence against Turkey. The United States and the European Union, along with NATO member Turkey, consider the PKK a terrorist organization.