AFP 14.3.2013 – AMADÎ : The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Tuesday freed eight Turkish prisoners held for two years in Iraq’s Kurdistan, as part of a new peace push by Ankara to end a 29-year-old insurgency. The release of the eight captives, including security officers and civil servants, came after a request by jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who said last month that he hoped to see prisoners “reach their families.”

“Responding to the call of our leader Abdullah Ocalan, today we handed over eight prisoners to a Turkish delegation,” Bawer Pirson, a senior PKK security leader, told a news conference near Al-Amadiyah, a Kurdish town about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Turkish border.

“We hope that our attempts succeed to develop a peace process.” He added: “The release was initiated with good intentions from our side.” “Today the ball is in Turkey’s court, and they have to demonstrate their goodwill to develop a peace process.”

The delegation has left Media Defense Areas with the eight prisoners following a press conference a protocol signing by PKK authorities and the delegation from Turkey. With the departure of the delegation, families of prisoners have been taken to Habur border gate where they will meet their children.

The released public officials and soldiers will bear testimony to a prosecutor and undergo medical examination before they are sent to Mardin or Diyarbakir with helicopters together with their families.

Speaking at the press conference in Media Defense Areas, PKK (HPG) Military Council member Bawer Dersim said that they handed over the prisoners upon the call of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. “With doing this, we aim to make a contribution to the ongoing process of talks with our leader. The prisoners have never been subjected to an insulting or ill treatment by our side. The reason why we are here today is the fact that the Kurdish problem still remains unsolved”, he said. PKK delegation has also given the delegation coming from Turkey reports on the medical condition of the eight prisoners. Earlier, Husamettin Zenderlioglu, member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) who was part of the delegation receiving the prisoners, said the group had been received safely. Zenderlioglu, who was in Iraqi Kurdistan, spoke to an AFP correspondent near Turkey’s border with Kurdistan region of Iraq.