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Sunday, March 7, 1999 Published at 03:47 GMT

World: Europe

Kurdish threat over PM's trip

Kurds around the world are continuing their protests

Kurdish rebels have threatened to punish anyone who meets the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, when he visits the mainly Kurdish southeast region on Sunday.

It is the first visit to the region by a senior Turkish politician since the arrest last month of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The Ocalan File
Mr Ecevit's trip comes as it emerges that he has written to European leaders urging them to clamp down on Mr Ocalan's Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in the southeast.

Investment, but no politics

The prime minister is due to travel to the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where he will discuss details of an economic investment programme for the region.

[ image: Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty]
Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty
He plans to meet local government and business leaders to launch his campaign.

But Mr Ecevit is not offering political change to the many Kurds who remain disaffected. The state continues to frown on Kurdish political activity.

Turkey's main legal Kurdish political party, Hadep, says its members and local offices are facing constant police pressure in the run-up to next month's general and local elections.

State prosecutors are trying to prevent Hadep participating at all. They allege the party is directly linked to the PKK.

BBC Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris says if Hadep does take part it will probably emerge comfortably as the region's biggest party which would cause great embarrassment to the prime minister.

'Terrorist acts'

[ image: Mr Ecevit:Promising investment]
Mr Ecevit:Promising investment
Mr Ecevit's letter to the heads of state of both Nato and European Union countries said: "I wish to strongly urge you to take firm and prompt legal action against any PKK presence on your territory under any guise.''

It said the PKK was instigating "terrorist acts" from western Europe through publications and the London-based Kurdish television channel, Med-TV, which broadcasts to Turkey.

"It is our firm conviction that the network of violence and organised crime which remains in Europe should be dismantled," Mr Ecevit added.

However, the letter was not sent to Greece, which gave Mr Ocalan shelter at a diplomatic residence in Nairobi before his capture last month.

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