ISTANBUL (ANP) – A group of 34 men, women and children, some of them members of the Kurdish separatist movement PKK, have turned themselves in to Turkish authorities. This happened in the village of Silopi, near the Iraqi border. The surrender is seen as a sign that the PKK supports the initiative of the Turkish government to solve the Kurdish problem by democratic means, which was launched in August.
PKK members are offered amnesty as long as they have not been directly involved in terrorism. In this way the Turkish government is trying to weaken the organisation, branded as terrorists by both the EU and the United States. Sooner or later it has to end the violence between the PKK and the Turkish army that has been going on for twenty-five years now.
At Silopi, hundreds of supporters of the PKK and the DTP, the only legal pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, came together. The DTP also sent high representatives, among them party leader Ahmet Türk, to the border to welcome the group from Iraq, where they live alongside PKK Turkish Kurds from Makhmur, a refugee camp in northern Iraq. They fled from Turkey in the nineties, when the fight between the Turkish army and the PKK was at its fiercest. It is expected that the majority of the group will soon be offered amnesty.
At least eight group members will probably be subject to deeper investigation. These eight men and women come straight from the Kandil mountains, on the Turkish Iraqi border, where the PKK has its headquarters and from where attacks on Turkey are launched.
Its Kurdish initiative does not mean the Turkish government is directly speaking with the PKK, whose goal used to be an independent Kurdish state. Ever since the leader Öcalan was arrested in 1999, that goal has been abandoned in favour of complete cultural and political freedom for the Kurds inside Turkey.