The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, today started withdrawal of its fighters from Turkey. The PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan, had declared a cease-fire in March after holding talks with senior Turkish leaders to end a nearly 30-year insurgency that has cost tens of thousands of lives. PKK’s fought for autonomy and greater rights for the Kurdish people who make up nearly 20 percent of Turkey’s population.
PKK fighters will be resettled in the mountainous regions of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. They have, however, rejected a Turkish demand to lay down arms before leaving the Turkish territory. The PKK's commander, Murat Karayilan, said the group won't disarm until Turkey enacts democratic reforms increasing the rights of Kurds and introduces an amnesty for all imprisoned rebels, including Ocalan, the Associated Press reported.
Associated Press, quoting Gultan Kisinak, one of the leaders of PKK, reported that the first group of rebel fighters, furthest away from the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, started their movement toward the border this morning. The fighters nearest the border keep watch and ensure secure passage of the rebels and would leave last.
Photo credit: PKK rebels begin to withdraw from Turkey (AFP/BBC)