Friday, November 20, 2009

BBC: Hopes of peace in Turkey's 25-year conflict

A recently announced peace initiative by the Turkish government has raised hopes that an end to the country's 25-year conflict with Kurdish rebels may be in sight. The BBC's Iain MacInnes travelled to the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey to gauge the mood.

Seydi Firat
Seydi Firat has been involved in PKK peace moves

In 1999, Seydi Firat was part of a peace group which crossed from Iraq into Turkey under the orders of Abdullah Ocalan the arrested leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).

"In one way or another, everybody got harmed in this period," he said.

"Now, I think, we have to sit down and talk to each other to prevent it going on like this indefinitely."

Mr Firat returned to same spot on the Iraqi border to welcome a new peace group last month, 10 years since he gave himself up.

The new group were also acting on Abdullah Ocalan's orders - eight Kurdish rebels were joined by 26 other Kurds, including refugees from a camp in Iraq.

They were responding to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's peace initiative, designed to offer greater rights to Kurds.