ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Jailed leader of Kurdish guerrilla fighters’ group, Abdullah Ocalan, said he is ready to address the Kurdish question in Turkey and stop the decades-long conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “within a week,” his lawyers conveyed in a statement on Thursday.
Ocalan is the founder of the PKK, a group that has engaged in an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. He has been in jail since he was arrested in Kenya in 1999.
The charismatic leader is viewed by the supporters of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) as the key figure to any peace process in Turkey.
Lawyers of Ocalan met him in prison this May for the first time in eight years — since 2011 — as Turkey applied a ban on the PKK leader. His lawyers met him on Wednesday for the second time.
According to their statement, Ocalan has said that Kurds in Turkey do not need a separate state of their own, but rather “a place that is consistent with historical Turkish-Kurdish relations.”
“I am trying to open a space for Kurds, come, let’s solve the Kurdish issue,” the PKK leader was quoted as saying.
“I say, I can put an end to this conflict situation ... within a week. I can solve it, I have confidence in myself, I am ready for a solution. But the state ... needs to do what is necessary,” he argued.
Since the 1980s, around 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and Turkish government. After a few years of a ceasefire — with Ocalan playing a key role in the peace talks — clashes resumed in 2015.
The PKK’s headquarters is located in the Qandil Mountains, in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Over the past few years, Ankara has increased its military engagements against the group, which Turkey, the EU, and the US have designated a “terrorist organization.”
Turkish forces have crossed into the Kurdistan Region up to 30 kilometers deep in some areas to target the group, with regular airstrikes aimed at the group’s fighters or hideouts.
Editing by Nadia Riva