DUBAI (Reuters)–Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan said in commen’s published on Monday there was no going back on what he called his choice of peace to settle his party’s 14-year-long fight for self-rule in southeast Turkey.
Ocalan was talking in an interview with the Saudi-owned London-based al-Hayat newspaper from Italy where he is being held under heavy guard.
"There is a state of war in Turkey between the government and the Kurds and everybody has to stop the bloodshed," he said.
"I found myself with two choices–either go back to the armed struggle and continue to defend ourselves or seek Europe’s help. We preferred the second choice which is the choice of peace from which there is no return and which is supported by the Kurdish people," he said.
Turkey dismisses Ocalan’s talk of peace as mere maneuvering and sees the West as too credulous in its dealings with him.
"Through our efforts for a political solution which the party congress will adopt in the next few days–we asked for political dialogue under the supervision of monitors from the United Nations and the European Union," Ocalan said.
Ocalan has called for a general congress of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)–which he has dominated since he founded it in 1974. He will not attend the gathering.
He said in commen’s published on Sunday the PKK would give up its armed struggle in Turkey if minority rights were granted to the country’s Kurds.
He told al-Hayat his proposal for peace includes a halt to military operations against Kurdish villages and towns–the return of Kurdish refugees and achieving Kurdish self-rule without infringing on the unity or safety of Turkish territory.
The proposal also calls for recognition of the Kurds’ right to democratic freedoms enjoyed by Turkish citizens and a recognition of the Kurdish identity–language and culture.
Turkey refuses to grant minority rights to its estimated ten to 12 million Kurds–arguing that all citizens are equal under the law. Education and broadcasting in Kurdish are banned.