Turkey on Wednesday dropped loud hints that it may pardon 2000 Kurdish fighters under a limited amnesty plan, even while expressing displeasure at the acquittal of a rebel leader in a Greek court.
A senior Turkish government official said the latest amnesty plan offered a complete pardon to any member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who could prove they had never carried out armed attacks on Turkish targets.
“There are up to 4500 PKK militants in northern Iraq. Of those, 2000 have never been involved in any attacks. We expect them to benefit from the law,” the official said.
Seeking independence, Kurdish guerillas have been battling Turkish-government forces in the country’s north for a long time. More than 30,000 people have died in the years of bitter fighting.
The amnesty however does not cover the rebel leadership, including PKK leader Abd Allah Ocalan, captured in 1999 and now serving a life jail term in an Istanbul prison.
During the day, Turkey expressed its dismay at last week’s acquittal in absentia of Ocalan by a Greek court for entering Greece illegally while he was on the run from Turkish forces.
“The acquittal of Ocalan and all other defendants in the case has been met with dismay,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
A court in Athens acquitted Ocalan last Friday, along with two Kurds and 10 Greeks who were alleged to have helped him.
The limited amnesty for the Kurdish fighters was meanwhile expected to be presented to the Turkish Parliament this week, the official said.
The plan envisages reduced prison terms for Kurdish fighters if they surrender and provide information to security forces.