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World - Middle East

Kurds ignore Turkish amnesty offer

 ALSO:
Gadhafi says Ocalan's arrest will not stop Kurd cause
 

U.S. admits role in Ocalan capture

February 20, 1999
Web posted at: 8:33 p.m. EST (0133 GMT)


In this story:

Kurds express outrage

U.S. admits role

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit Saturday offered Kurdish separatists partial amnesty if they surrender. But defiant rebels encouraged Kurdish protests spreading across Turkey and Europe, and vowed to continue fighting despite the capture of their chief Abdullah Ocalan.

Ecevit called for an end to 14 years of bloody rebellion, but his amnesty offer contained no concessions to Kurdish nationalists seeking a negotiated solution. Nevertheless, it was Ankara's first official gesture to the rebels since Ocalan was captured Monday.

"Youths hiding in mountains and in caves, come and find refuge with the justice system," Ecevit said. "The state will provide every kind of security measure for you. Rescue yourselves from the hands of those who exploited and threw you into the fire. You cannot defeat the state."

Ecevit promised repentant rebels job training, and suggested they would receive reduced prison sentences if they turned themselves in.

But he failed to impress tens of thousands of Kurds demonstrating in Turkey and Europe. Protests have erupted across the region since Turkish special forces snatched Ocalan out of Kenya earlier this week.

In Istanbul, pro-Ocalan gunmen opened fire during a demonstration, wounding five Turkish policemen, state-run Anatolian news agency said. Other protests took place in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey and big-city suburbs inhabited by migrants from the region.

In Iran, one of Ocalan's commanders called for Kurds to fight Turkey and attack police and civil servants.

"The Kurdish people should take up their weapons and fight the Turkish state. They should attack every policeman, civil servant and supporter of the state they find in answer to this attack (Ocalan's capture)," Hassan Ali told Kurdish- language channel Med TV.

Kurd civilians, militants express outrage

Ocalan supporters took to the streets in at least 10 cities across western Europe including London, Paris, Stockholm, Geneva and Vienna.

The biggest rally was in Bonn, where riot police prevented 7,000 Kurds from marching to the Israeli Embassy to mourn three militant colleagues killed by security guards as they tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Berlin last Tuesday.

In contrast to Tuesday's protests, which included the occupation of more than 20 Greek and Kenyan diplomatic missions across Europe, Saturday's demonstrations were largely limited to chanting and burning Turkish flags.

But in Rome some 50 Kurdish militants broke away from the main rally to throw firebombs at a Turkish Airlines office and clashed with police in riot gear.

U.S. admits role in Ocalan capture

Turkey seized on its capture of Ocalan last week to launch a military assault on mountain bases of his Kurdistan Workers' Party across the border in Iraq.

On Saturday it said some 4,000 Turkish troops had been pulled back from the mountainous region, while others were still searching for rebels. A military official said around 10 rebels had been killed in the operation.

On Saturday, U.S. officials acknowledged that the United States worked for months to help Turkey arrest Ocalan.

In Washington, officials confirmed reports that U.S. diplomatic pressure helped put Ocalan in flight from a safe haven in Syria and eventually into the arms of the Turkish commandos.

Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and Reuters contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
Ocalan lawyer says fair trial unlikely in Turkey
February 19, 1999
Turkey stifles Kurdish protests, begins Ocalan interrogation
February 18, 1999
Reports: Ocalan snatched by Turkish commandos
February 17, 1999
Turks jubilant over Ocalan's capture
February 16, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Kurdistan Workers Party Information
The Republic of Turkey
President of the Turkish Republic
The Center for Kurdish Political Studies
Terrorist acts by the PKK
Turkish Press Review: Daily News
Kurdish Information Network
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