Kurdish politician appeals for ‘new peace era’ between Turkey and Kurds

Published February 6th, 2017 - 09:00 GMT
The file photo shows Ahmet Turk, the pro-Kurdish mayor of Mardin in Turkey. (AFP/File)
The file photo shows Ahmet Turk, the pro-Kurdish mayor of Mardin in Turkey. (AFP/File)

The Kurds and the Turkish government should embrace a new era of peace to end a decades-long conflict, said a respected pro-Kurdish politician after his release following over two months in jail.

Former mayor of the southeastern city of Mardin, Ahmet Turk, 74, was held in November on terror charges, but his arrest caused controversy even among political foes who have regarded him as a moderate voice for peace.

Turk, a senior member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was released from jail in the city of Elazig on health grounds late on Friday and returned to Mardin, where he enjoys immense popularity.

The HDP has been heavily targeted by the crackdown under Turkey's state of emergency with 12 MPs currently under arrest including its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

"One person leaving jail does not solve the problem. Our co-leaders, our mayors, nearly our entire leadership are inside," Turk told reporters in Mardin in his first major comments since leaving jail.

"We hope that there will be new era for a solution for the peaceful normalisation of Turkey," he said, quoted by Dogan news agency.

"There is no alternative other than dialogue. I hope that in the nearest future a joint spirit will arise and finishing with the weapons will be on the agenda."

Tens of thousands have lost their lives since 1984 in the conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which seeks greater rights and autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish minority, and the army.

There has been a new surge in fighting since a ceasefire collapsed in summer 2015, with the government vowing to fight until the PKK is eradicated and the militants refusing to lay down their weapons.


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