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Wednesday, February 17, 1999 Published at 12:16 GMT


World: Europe

Rebel threat over Ocalan arrest

A wave of Kurdish protests has erupted across Europe

Supporters of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have vowed Turkey will pay heavily for his capture, as violent demonstrations continue in cities across Europe.

The Ocalan File
Mr Ocalan's brother, Osman, called on Kurds everywhere to ''fight the enemy'' as security forces in Turkey were put on a heightened state of alert.

Mr Ocalan, currently held at a secret location near Istanbul, was returned to Turkey on Tuesday after turning up at the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.


The BBC's Chris Morris: "Violence flared in Istanbul"
His capture sparked mass protests in 20 European cities, with demonstrators setting themselves alight, storming Greek diplomatic missions and taking hostages.

Greece has appealed to the European Union over the fate of Mr Ocalan, saying the EU now had an obligation to safeguard him.


The BBC's Paul Wood in Athens: "Greece would take 'all necessary measures' to protect those threatened"
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis also warned that Greece would not tolerate the continuing "terrorist actions" against its embassies.

Mr Ocalan now faces trial on murder and terrorism charges and possible execution. Ankara blames him for 30,000 deaths during his PKK rebel movement's 15-year fight for a Kurdish homeland in south-eastern Turkey.

'We will fight'

But his brother Osman, a senior PKK member, warned: "Our party, our army, and our front ... will make the Turkish state pay dearly for the plot and act of piracy perpetrated against our national leader.


[ image: Several protesters have set themselves on fire]
Several protesters have set themselves on fire
"Our people must make life an inferno for the Turkish state," he told London-based Kurdish Med TV.

He called on Kurds, especially in ''urban centres'', to wreak havoc for Ankara.

"This is legitimate,'' he added. ''They should activate all their means to this end. One does not bow down to the enemy; one only fights the enemy."

Hostages

The threats came as Mr Ocalan's Kurdish supporters staged dramatic protests across Europe, and in Australia and Canada. .


The BBC's Jeremy Bowen on Turkey's "general mood of national satisfaction"
Furious supporters barricaded themselves in the Greek Embassy in London saying they were ready to burn themselves. Others broke into the United Nations Europe headquarters in Geneva.

Fear of reprisals from Kurdish protestors forced Kenya to order the closure of all its 34 embassies around the world on Wedneday morning.

There are protests in Moscow, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Marseille, Paris and several German cities. And at least three supporters have set themselves on fire since Monday.

Athens has warned it will take strong action against any Kurdish demonstrators who do not release diplomats taken hostage.

In Austria, PKK supporters evacuated the Greek and Kenyan embassies in Vienna after occupying the premises throughout Tuesday. They released seven hostages including the Greek ambassador and his wife.

In the Netherlands, protesters occupied the Greek ambassador's residence in The Hague holding his wife, child and a maid captive. They have also been released.

Lawyers refused entry

Meanwhile, Turkish officials have barred a team of lawyers who have flown to Istanbul to assist Mr Ocalan.

Attorney Britta Boehler told the news agency AFP that she and two other lawyers had been taken off the plane by ten Turkish security officials immediately after their KLM flight landed.

They were escorted to the airport police, where their passports and tickets were taken away.

"We were told that we were barred from entering the country by a special order from the Turkish Interior Ministry," Ms Boehler said.

The Dutch consul who went to the airport to help them was not allowed to see them.

The BBC correspondent in Ankara, Jeremy Bowen, says there are concerns about whether Mr Ocalan will get a fair trial in Turkey.

Undercover operation

It appears that Abdullah Ocalan had been secretly in hiding at the Greek ambassador's residence in Kenya since early February, but Greece has denied handing him over to the Turkish authorities.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Mr Ocalan's capture followed a 12-day undercover operation and that he would ''account for his actions in front of the Turkish justice system''.

The United States, which also views Mr Ocalan as a terrorist, has welcomed his arrest. A White House spokesman said Washington was very pleased.

Mr Ocalan originally fled to Italy in November after being kicked out of his base in Syria. Rome refused to hand him over to Turkey on the grounds that he could face capital punishment there.

But Mr Ocalan left the country last month when Rome did not grant him immediate asylum. He reportedly tried to go to the Netherlands to ask the International Court of Arbitration to mediate in the Kurdish dispute, but was refused permission to land at Rotterdam.



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Internet Links


Kenya - Office of the President

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Med-TV - Kurdish TV channel

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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