TUNCELI–Turkey (Reuters)–Kurds broadcasting to southeast Turkey from a London-based station have threatened "total war" if their leader Abdullah Ocalan–on trial for treason in Turkey–is executed. Top rebel commander Cemil Bayik made his commen’s on the Cultural TV satellite channel late on Thursday. The station opened last month after London closed the Kurdish-language Med TV for broadcasting calls to violence from Ocalan’s loyalists.
"If Apo is executed–it will open the way to new wars and destruction which cannot be guessed at," said Bayik–a member of the six-man committee which has run the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] since Ocalan–known as Apo–was seized by Turkish forces in Kenya in February.
"In the future–it would be a total war," Bayik said.
It is not clear whether the PKK is now capable of mounting any sustained large-scale campaign in Turkey. Recent years have seen army successes in countering the Kurds and Ocalan’s capture was met with a relatively weak reaction from the PKK.
Authorities in the southeast said on Friday troops had killed seven PKK members in fighting in Van province. Three members of the security forces died in the clash.
Ocalan’s trial was adjourned for two weeks on Tuesday to allow the defense to prepare their summing-up. The verdict on charges carrying the death penalty is expected late this month.
If Ocalan is sentenced to death–his fate would be decided in the political domain with parliament voting to execute him or commute to life imprisonment.
Ocalan has offered to summon his guerrillas down from the mountains of southeast Turkey and northern Iraq if he is spared. The PKK says it will refrain from attacks until the verdict.
Bayik called on European countries to put pressure on Turkey to ensure Ocalan was not hanged.
The Kurds’ warning could pose problems for CTV which is licensed by Britain’s Independent Television Commission (ITC).
The ITC revoked the broadcast license of Med TV in April for inciting violence against Turkey.
Turkey–which bans television and education in Kurdish–has protested to Britain for allowing Cultural TV to operate.
Viewers in southeast Turkey said Kurdish programs began in the evening and were followed by Christian documentaries–alternating in Kurdish–Turkish and Arabic.