Thousands of Kurds march for release of jailed PKK leader

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Thousands of Kurds took to the street in the eastern province of Cizre in Turkey on Saturday (March 14) calling for freedom for the imprisoned leader of the

Thousands of Kurds march for release of jailed PKK leader

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)

STORY: Thousands of Kurds took to the street in the eastern province of Cizre in Turkey on Saturday (March 14) calling for freedom for the imprisoned leader of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who spent decades fighting for the autonomy of Turkey’s Kurds.

PKK’s militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the party in 1978, was apprehended on February 15, 1999 while fleeing the Greek Embassy in Nairobi after a year-long international manhunt that took him from Syria to Russia, Italy, Greece and Kenya. He was sentenced to death later that year for treason, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2002.

The protesters flocked to the streets of Cizre and headed to Diyarbakir, the largest city in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

The long march took place after Ocalan called on his followers to take the historic decision to lay down their arms on February 28, a crucial step in Turkey’s drive to end a 30-year insurgency by Kurdish rebels.

An extraordinary disarmament congress should be held in the spring, according to a statement from Ocalan, but it was not clear who would attend the conference or whether PKK forces outside of Turkey would be expected to lay down arms too.

The Kurds populate an area that extends from southeastern Turkey through northeastern Syria and northern Iraq, into western Iran.

Tags : leader, Jailed, release, march, Kurds, thousands

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