Turks Demand Death for Ocalan
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Some 2,000 relatives of slain soldiers rallied Sunday near the Turkish prison island holding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, demanding the death penalty for the man they say is responsible for the soldiers’ deaths.
Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has been charged with treason for leading a guerrilla war in southeastern Turkey. Although he could be sentenced to death, Turkey has not carried out any executions for more than a decade.
``I want Apo’s execution,″ said Recep Vardar, the father of a slain soldier. Apo is short for Abdullah. ``He should suffer in the same way he made us suffer,″ Turkey’s Anatolia news agency quoted Vardar as saying.
Vardar is one of 2,000 relatives who rallied in Mudanya, the nearest port to Imrali island, where Ocalan is the only prisoner. The island is some 20 miles from Mudanya.
Ocalan’s PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast since 1984. Some 37,000 people, mostly civilians and guerrillas, have died in the conflict.
On Sunday, Turkish soldiers in the southeast dropped leaflets from helicopters calling on PKK guerrillas to surrender. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has promised lenient punishment for fighters who lay down their arms.
Southeastern Turkey is home to an estimated 12 million Kurds.
Ocalan was captured by Turkish commandos in mid-February outside the Greek ambassador’s residence in Nairobi, Kenya.
Turkey has accused Greece of aiding the PKK, and Turkey’s president again issued a thinly veiled threat to Athens, saying that ``Turkey will do whatever is necessary for its self-defense.″
``One of the (NATO) allies, Greece, is supporting a bloody movement so that Turkey is attacked from within,″ President Suleyman Demirel told state-run TRT television late Saturday. ``Now, is this not disgraceful?″
Greece has denied the accusations and has said that it only helped Ocalan as a humanitarian gesture.