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Kurdish prisoners end hunger strike

Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan intervenes to stop a 68 day strike in protest against his island imprisonment.
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2012 10:04
Ocalan, imprisoned since his capture in 1999, has significant support among Kurds but is widely reviled by Turkey [EPA]

Hundreds of Jailed Kurdish Separtists across Turkey have ended a 68-day-old hunger strike in response to a call from their jailed leader.

The Kurdistan Workers Party's (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan's call for the end of the hunger strike, which was staged to demand an end to his isolation in an island prison south of Istanbul, was announced by his brother on Saturday.

The move will fuel hopes of a fresh push to end a decades-old conflict between the Turkish state and the (PKK) - designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union - in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

"On the basis of our leader's call ... we end our protest as of November 18, 2012," Deniz Kaya, a spokesman for the jailed PKK members, was quoted as saying in the association statement on Sunday.

Ocalan's announcement suggested a deal had been struck to end a protest that was becoming a thorn in the side of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

A Turkish newspaper said on Sunday talks between Ocalan and Turkish intelligence officials over the last two months had paved the way for his call to end the hunger strike.

"A delegation went to Imrali on three occasions. A senior Turkish official joined one of these visits and Ocalan's intervention was sought to end the hunger strike," the liberal daily Radikal said.

The paper did not identify its sources.

Ocalan, imprisoned on Imrali island in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul since his capture in 1999, has significant support among Kurds but is widely reviled by Turks who hold him responsible for the conflict since the PKK took up arms in 1984.

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