Kurdish Protest Canceled in Turkish Port Town

Posted October 9th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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A Kurdish lawmaker in the Turkish parliament says a large Kurdish protest demonstration has been canceled at a port town in northwestern Turkey near a prison holding Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Lawmaker Aysel Tugluk said the cancelation was ordered after police in Gemlik blocked buses carrying protesters into the town. Turkish television said another convoy of some 1,000 protesters was blocked from leaving the Kurd-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Saturday.

The planned protest was organized by activists who are demanding that Turkey's government recognize Ocalan — the imprisoned head of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party — as their legitimate representative in any forthcoming peace talks.

Ocalan sent word through his lawyers earlier this year that he had agreed with Turkish officials to set up a “peace council” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the 27-year-old conflict.

Ocalan has been in prison since 1999, serving a life sentence for treason. His Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey. More than 40,000 have died in the rebellion launched in 1984.