ISTANBUL (AP/Reuters)–Turkey’s Kurdish rebels on Wednesday urged Kurdish youths to join guerrillas and said war against Turkey had become inevitable–according to a statement carried by a Kurdish news agency.
A rebel spokesman in Rome said the group would declare an end to their four-year unilateral cease-fire on Saturday if Turkey did not make any conciliatory steps.
A renewal of guerrilla warfare could affect US plans to station tens of thousands of troops in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey to open a northern front in an Iraq war.
The rebels said they "understood that the four-year-old peace process has been choked and that war has become inevitable." The statement also accused Turkey of preparing to occupy northern Iraq to "suppress Kurdish freedom" there.
Turkey says it will send thousands of troops into northern Iraq in case of a war against Iraq. Most analysts believe Turkey wants to send in its forces to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq and to fight the rebels who have their main bases there.
The rebel group–which last year changed its name from Kurdistan Workers’ Party–or PKK–to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress–or KADEK–withdrew to bases in northern Iraq when it declared the cease-fire.
In the statement–the rebel leadership urged Kurds to prepare for war.
"We call on all Kurds … to take part in actions of democratic uprising–on youths to join the guerrilla and on all our people to support the defensive war materially and spiritually," it said.
Adem Uzun–a member of KADEK–said the group would declare an end to the cease-fire on Saturday if Turkey showed no change in its attitude. "The peace process will be over," he said in a telephone interview from Rome. He refused to say what kind of actions the rebels were planning.
"It has been decided to take on the agenda the right of the Kurdish people to justified self-defense. On the agenda is a defensive war against a destructive one," said the statement released by the Germany-based Mesopotamia news agency.
Saturday will be the forth anniversary of the capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan–who is the sole inmate of a Turkish prison island and is serving a life sentence for leading the 15-year war against the Turkish army that left 37,000 people dead since 1984
Many Kurds are worried about Ocalan’s fate since Turkish authorities have for 11 weeks prevented his lawyers from traveling to the prison island–citing bad weather conditions.
KADEK said that Turkey had until Saturday to end Ocalan’s isolation and take practical steps toward a peaceful solution of the Kurdish problem–such as declaring a full amnesty for political prisoners. Tensions are high in the southeast as tens of thousands of Turkish troops deploy along the border with Iraq.
In the worst fighting since the cease-fire–soldiers killed 12 Kurdish rebels in clashes last month that also left one soldier dead and five injured. On Wednesday–police detained 100 people protesting Ocalan’s isolation in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir–Batman and Siirt.
Supporters of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party DEHAP clashed with police in three cities in the mainly-Kurdish southeast on Wednesday. It was not clear if the protests were related to the KADEK statement.
Parliament last year passed laws bolstering the rights of Turkey’s estimated 12 million Kurds as Ankara chases membership in the European Union. EU officials have said most of the reforms have yet to be fully implemented.
Turkey only recently lifted its ban on Kurdish language education and television.