Jailed PKK leader says he can end Turkey’s Kurdish conflict in one week

Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan said he could end the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants within a week, the Reuters news agency reported on Thursday.

In a statement conveyed through his lawyers on Thursday, Ocalan, who has been in jail since 1999, said he is ready for a solution on the Kurdish issue.

Released in a post on the official Twitter account of the Asrin Law Office, the statement comes a day after they visited him in prison.

Founded by Ocalan, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.

The armed militant group launched a separatist insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984.

The militant leader has been held in solitary confinement in Imrali, an island prison in the Marmara Sea since he was captured by the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) with the support of the CIA in Nairobi in 1999.

His lawyers visited him in prison for the first time in eight years in May, when a ban on seeing him, in place since 2011, was lifted.

“I am trying to open a space for Kurds, come let’s solve the Kurdish issue,” Ocalan was quoted as saying in the statement.

Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) respect the Kurdish militant leader and think of him as key to any peace process.

Referring to Turgut Ozal, who served as the 8th President of Turkey for four years before he died in 1993, Ocalan questioned the existence of an authority figure who would today show the same resolution Ozal did then, according to the lawyers.

Ozal agreed to negotiations with PKK in the early 90s, which led to a cease-fire declaration by the militant group on 20 March 1993.

However, hopes of reconciliation evaporated after the president’s suspicious death on April 17, 1993.

Arguing that Kurds do not need a separate state, Ocalan added: “I say, I can remove this conflict situation, even the possibility of it, within one week.”

“I can solve it, I have confidence in myself, I am ready for a solution,” he promised, provided that the Turkish state also does “what is necessary for it.”

When a ceasefire broke down between the Turkish forces and the PKK militants in 2015, after several years of peace talks between the two sides where Ocalan played an essential role, Turkey witnessed some of the worst violence in the decades-long conflict.

As many as 40,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict between the Turkish army and the Kurdish militants.

Social media campaign calls for release of jailed Kurdish leader 

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