Turkey to offer Kurd rebels amnesty

Turkey was set to announce on Friday an amnesty offer to separatist Kurdish rebels who have been fighting Ankara for nearly two decades.

    Turkey move to defuse
    tension with the Kurds

    The amnesty bill is mainly aimed at the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- now renamed KADEK -- which has led an armed rebellion in the southeast of the country since 1984.

      

    Turkey's top civilian and military leaders reviewed the bill on Thursday at a meeting of the National Security Council (MGK).

      

    Further discusssions took place on Friday morning at the foreign ministry involving the foreign, interior, justice and health ministers, along with senior army and intelligence officials, media reports said.

      

    The amnesty bill would this time offer a full pardon to the rebels who had not committed acts of violence and who supply information about the PKK.

      

    Leaders would be excluded from the amnesty offer.

     

    Reduced sentences

      

    The bill, which could be brought to parliament as early as next week, reportedly foresees a reduction in sentences for those who have taken part in violent acts and for those already in jail.

      

    A senior Turkish diplomat said that Ankara had discussed the amnesty project with United States officials.

     

    Turkey has offered partial amnesties on seven previous occasions, with reductions in sentences in exchange for full confessions and information on rebel activities.

     

    Fighting in the region has abated since 1999 when the PKK announced it was laying down its weapons in the wake of the arrest of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

      

    Some 5,000 PKK rebels have since withdrawn to mountaineous bases in northern Iraq.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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