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 Iraqi Kurdistan PM criticises celebrations for PKK rebels 

 Source :  AFP | Agencies  
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Iraqi Kurdistan PM criticises celebrations for PKK rebels  26.10.2009 

October 26, 2009

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The outgoing prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Sunday criticised Kurds in Turkey after freed separatist rebels were given a hero's welcome as they returned to their homes.

"The 'peace envoys' sent by the PKK (outlawed Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party) are a positive step along the path of peace, but they should not have been so provocative," outgoing Kurdish premier,
www.ekurd.netNechirvan Barzani told reporters in the regional capital Erbil.

He was referring to celebrations in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast after the release on Tuesday of eight militants who crossed from Iraq to Turkey and turned themselves in as a gesture of support for government plans to expand Kurdish freedoms.

As part of the festivities, crowds brandished PKK flags and played songs praising the 25-year insurgency against Ankara.                                         

Nechirvan Barzani, the outgoing prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region
The militants were part of a 34-strong group, also including Kurdish refugees who had lived in Iraqi Kurdistan region for years, which the PKK sent as "peace envoys" to Turkey.

"The PKK should not adopt a defiant attitude, which could halt the progress being made and would be exploited by enemies of the Kurds," Barzani said.

He said he was satisfied by the Turkish gesture to release the rebels, saying: "We hope that this project will continue to try and resolve the Kurdish problem in Turkey."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday that Ankara's efforts to reconcile with its Kurds had been hit by a "crisis of confidence" after the rebels were greeted with celebrations.

Erdogan said the arrival of a second such group, expected next week, has
been postponed because of the festivities.

The member of the executive council of PKK
Zübeyir Aydar has declared that the trip of the third PKK peace group’ to Turkey has been delayed. Earlier the Turkish premier Erdogan told reporters that the return of the group had been postponed.

Since 1984 the PKK took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan) which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
www.ekurd.net the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Ankara is currently working on a package of fresh reforms to expand the freedoms of the Kurdish community, but has rejected calls to halt military action against the PKK.

Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, AFP | Agencies     


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