Conflict & Justice

Turkey ‘sabotaging’ peace process, Kurdish rebels say


A Kurdish man holds up a flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during Noruz spring festival in the Lebanese capital Beirut on March 21, 2012.


Joseph Eid

Rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) issued a statement today accusing the Turkish government of not doing its part to work with the Kurds in a peace process intended to end a violent conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people since 1984.

After 30 years of fighting to win self-rule for Kurds in Turkey, the PKK declared a cease-fire in March, and began withdrawing an estimated 2,000 troops from Turkey, bringing them back to northern Iraq in May.

More from GlobalPost: Kurdish militants begin historic Turkey withdrawal

In return, Turkey was supposed to introduce reforms that would grant more rights to its 15 million Kurdish citizens. However, the rebels said Turkey was dragging its feet on making changes.

Turkish officials have refused to allow an independent group of doctors to visit the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan on his prison island off Istanbul, the group charged. The PKK also accused the Turkish government of supporting radical Islamic groups against the Kurdish fighters in Syria.

"It is clear that the government is behind efforts to sabotage the peace process," the PKK said in a statement reported by Kurdish news agency Firat. "We are sending a final warning to the government. If they do not immediately take the steps called for by our people and public opinion, the peace process will not continue, and they will be to blame.”

The Turkish government said the peace process can’t move forward until the PKK withdraws all its fighters from Turkey. Ankara claims that so far the PKK has only removed 20 percent of its troops.