Turkey's weights 'repentance law' for Kurdish Workers Party

Thursday, May 29, 2003

ANKARA Turkey plans to launch an effort to reconcile with Kurdish insurgents.

The government has drafted legislation that would encourage insurgents from the Kurdish Workers Party to surrender and lay down their arms. In return, the PKK members would be eligible for amnesty.

Turkish officials said about 8,000 PKK members are believed to be in northern Iraq. Most of them are said to have sought safe haven along the Syrian border.

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The United States prevented Turkey's military from invading northern Iraq and launching an offensive against PKK forces. Instead, Washington has pledged to disarm the Kurdish combatants.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party has described the legislation as a "repentance law" that would encourage Kurds to end their insurgency and return to Turkey. Southeastern Turkey has a large Kurdish population.

In 1999, Turkey captured PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. At the urging of the European Union, the PKK changed its named to Kadek and said it would renounce violence.

Turkish officials said the PKK remains active in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The officials said the PKK obtained help from the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein until the U.S.-led war in Iraq in March.

In Washington, Turkey's ambassador to the United States Farouk Lologlu said Turkish troops would remain deployed in northern Iraq until the termination of the PKK threat. Lologlu, speaking to the Turkish-American Business Forum, said Ankara did not want any ethnic group to dominate northern Iraq.

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