Dozens Arrested in Demos Demanding Kurdish Leader's Release
Police arrested nearly 100 people during demonstrations in several Turkish towns marking the second anniversary of the arrest of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, Anatolia news agency reported Friday.
Some 60 were held late Thursday after demonstrators hurled stones at police cars, smashing their windows in the southern town of Mersin.
Elsewhere Kurds burned tires in protest against the death sentence passed on Ocalan, head of the banned militant separatist Kurdish organization, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Ocalan was seized by Turkish agents in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in February 1999.
A Turkish court later sentenced him to death for treason and separatism. His execution was suspended pending a European Court of Human Rights ruling on complaints which he lodged that Turkey had violated human rights.
The PKK originally sought the creation of an independent Kurdish state in what is now southeastern Turkey.
But it downgraded its demands from full independence to ones of cultural rights and freer political representation following an appeal by the imprisoned Ocalan to lay down its arms and seek a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish conflict.
The PKK said it was withdrawing from Turkey, thus ending a violent campaign that had claimed some 36,500 lives since 1984.
Since 1999 clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK have subsided in the south-eastern territory, and thousands of Turkish Kurdish rebels have taken refuge in neighboring northern Iraq.
Kurdish militants based in Europe had earlier this week sent messages to fellow activists in Turkey calling for 'Intifada-style demonstrations' to mark the anniversary of Ocalan, the leader of the separatist (PKK), Anatolia news agency reported.
The PKK said in a statement that "our people should express their reactions within the framework of democratic rules," the pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Politika said in its Internet edition.
The seizure of Ocalan in Kenya ended a pursuit of the rebel leader who fled successively to Russia, Italy and Greece after Syria expelled him from his long-standing safe haven in Damascus in the face of Turkish threats of military action -- ANKARA (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)