Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan ordered his fighters on Thursday to cease fire and withdraw from Turkish soil as a step to ending a conflict that has killed 40,000 people, riven the country and battered its economy.
Hundreds of thousands of Kurds, gathered in the regional center of Diyarbakir, cheered and waved banners bearing Ocalan’s mustachioed image when a letter from the rebel leader, held since 1999 on a prison island in the Marmara Sea, was read out by a pro-Kurdish politician.
"Let guns be silenced and politics dominate," he said to a sea of red-yellow-green Kurdish flags. "The stage has been reached where our armed forces should withdraw beyond the borders … It’s not the end. It’s the start of a new era."
As is the case with any sizeable guerilla army, there is some concern that word of the cease fire either won’t reach or won’t be accepted by some of Ocalan’s former fighters. Still, a call for political discourse from the man who’s inspired people to take up arms against Turkey for decades is certainly a good sign for the future.
March 21, 2013 // 15:45 // 8 months ago