After Decades of War, Kurds to Call for Dialogue in Turkey
Decades of bloodshed from both sides have cost tens of thousands of lives since 1984
Ben Brumfield CNN
March 21, 2013(CNN) -- For almost 30 years, Abdullah Ocalan called for his people to wage war against the Turkish state.
On Thursday, the imprisoned founder of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party is expected to make a "historic call" for dialogue with the government.
After decades of bloodshed from both sides that have cost tens of thousands of lives since 1984, there have been recent signs of reconciliation.
In his decade in power, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has loosened restrictions on expression of Turkish culture, which were forbidden as being un-Turkish for decades.
Over a week ago, Kurdish rebels handed over eight Turkish hostages in northern Iraq in a gesture of good will.
"This shows that there can be a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue," said Adil Kurt, a parliament member from Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). He went to Iraq to help pick up the hostages and bring them back to Turkey.
His party is expected to read a letter from Ocalan in parliament Wednesday.
The PKK is expected to initiate a cease-fire and begin leaving Turkish territory. It could announce that its armed wing will eventually lay down its weapons.
Counter-demands are not yet known, but the PKK in the past has insisted upon collective rights as an ethnic group, which are anchored in a new constitution, as well as a degree of autonomy in governing Kurdish areas.
Kurds are nation without a nation. The ethnic group with its own languages and customs straddles the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They are sizable minority and make up nearly 20% of the population of Turkey.
Ocalan called for the PKK to carry out bloody attacks starting in 1984 in retaliation against cultural suppression, particularly attempts to stamp out the Kurdish language. His ultimate goal has been the formation of a Kurdish state.
It resulted in countless bombings, armed attacks, hunger strikes. Kurdish protesters demanding autonomy have also often set themselves on fire in public places.
The Turkish government has declared the Marxist movement a terror organization as has its ally the United States.