Kurdish Rebel Cease-fire Deadline Expires Wednesday in Turkey

Posted June 14th, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Wednesday is the deadline set by imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan for Turkey's government to start talks on rebel demands.

Ocalan had warned that he will call off a cease-fire if his demand for negotiations is not met.

Ocalan leads the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The PKK is demanding greater autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey. The fighting between Turkish forces and the rebels has killed about 40,000 since 1984.

The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party made a strong showing in this week's Turkish parliamentary election, winning 36 seats.

One of the new pro-Kurdish lawmakers, Altan Tan, has warned that Kurdish populated areas could turn into Egypt, Yemen, and Syria unless there is a new constitution giving Kurds more rights.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to amend the country's constitution, written in 1982 when Turkey was under military rule.

He has offered few details, but his backers say the new constitution would guarantee more rights for minorities, including Kurds.

U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Mr. Erdogan Tuesday for his party's victory in this week's elections.

Also Tuesday, Turkish officials said security forces killed three suspected militants during fighting in eastern Sivas province. The officials did not say who the militants are. But Kurdish rebels have been active in the region.