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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 19:56 GMT

World: Europe

Ocalan calls for peace

Kurds across the world have campaigned for Mr Ocalan's release

The imprisoned Kurdish separatist leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has appealed for peace in Turkey - his first public statement since being captured by the Turkish authorities.

The Ocalan File
In a written statement distributed though his lawyers, Mr Ocalan said he wanted real peace and democracy in Turkey.

Mr Ocalan faces treason charges and a possible death sentence for leading the PKK's 14-year armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule.

His statement said that his defence will rest on the unilateral ceasefire his organisation, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), called last year.

"On the basis of Turkey's territorial integrity and independence, we want to create the conditions for a political solution opening the way to a peaceful co-existence of our peoples within the territorial integrity," Mr Ocalan wrote.

Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris: "The year of Ocalan"
He has been being held on the heavily-guarded Imrali prison island since Turkey snatched him from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on 15 February.

Sympathisers have staged violent protests across Kurdish areas of south-east Turkey and in Kurdish quarters of big cities across the world since the arrest took place.

Turkey's Western allies have called for a fair trial for Mr Ocalan.

[ image: Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty]
Mr Ocalan faces the death penalty
Turkey has not carried out a death penalty since 1984 and any such verdict must be ratified by parliament and the president.

Mr Ocalan's rebels have pledged to step up their campaign.

Correspondents say they are widely suspected to have had a hand in a wave of fatal bomb explosions in Turkey's main cities, Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkish authorities hold Mr Ocalan responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people who perished in clashes between PKK rebels and government forces.

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