Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepgaelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 19 November, 1999, 12:04 GMT
PKK: We will not surrender
Young PKK fighter with colleagues in south-eastern Turkey

By Chris Morris in Istanbul

Turkey's court of appeal is set to decide later this month whether to uphold the death sentence imposed on the Kurdish separatist leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

Until the two terrible earthquakes which struck north-western Turkey in the last three months, the main news in this country this year has been the capture, trial and sentencing of Mr Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party or the PKK.

The Turkish authorities say that Mr Ocalan's PKK rebel movement is now in disarray - on the run - but that's not quite true.

The PKK says it is withdrawing its forces from Turkish soil as a gesture of peace. But that's not quite true either.

PKK fighter loads gun during military training
New film footage - released just a few days ago - has revealed that the PKK are still making military preparations in the mountains of south-eastern Turkey.

The PKK has battled against one of the largest armies in the world for 15 years with small groups of fighters.

Human rights abuse

There have been gross abuses of human rights on both sides. Now the PKK has declared a ceasefire.

They are watching and waiting. If their leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who sits on death row, were to be executed, the guns would be taken up again in earnest.

The Turkish armed forces say Mr Ocalan's appeal for peace is just another tactic. Nothing less than outright surrender will do. Those who refuse will be hunted down.

But the PKK insists that it will not give up. One fighter said: "The call for surrender is irrelevant. It only applies to people who are guilty of something and need to repent.

"We are members of a party which expresses the desires of the people who have lived in this region for thousands of years."

There has been talk of serious splits in the PKK, but PKK fighters seem happy enough. They have been in the hills for years. Bitter winter weather is on its way.

They are in contact with other rebel groups in the region and are waiting for decisions on the future to be made at a PKK leaders' meeting taking place on the borders of Iran and Iraq.

International isolation

The PKK's campaign for some sort of international acceptance has been a non-starter. They remain isolated with few real friends outside their own region.

Kurdish fighters endure severe weather conditions in the mountains of south east Turkey
There are now growing calls from abroad not to talk to the PKK, but to give ordinary Kurds in south-east Turkey what they want - a little more freedom to express their identity.

President Clinton has already mentioned it this week. It will be a subject hovering in the background at the OSCE summit as well as in Turkey's difficult negotiations with the European Union.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
09 Nov 99 |  Europe
PKK members charged with terrorism
17 Feb 99 |  Europe
Ocalan file: Timeline
22 Oct 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Ocalan fate uncertain
02 Sep 99 |  Europe
'No more fighting,' says rebel leader

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Europe stories are at the foot of the page.