ANKARA Ñ Turkey has launched an initiative to reconcile with up
to 5,000 members of the Kurdish Workers Party in northern Iraq.
The government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has drafted legislation
that would grant amnesty to Kurdish insurgents. The bill would offer pardons
or reduction of prison sentences to Kurds who surrender their weapons to
States has urged Turkey to offer the amnesty to avoid a military
operation against the PKK insurgents, said to be equipped with heavy
weapons stolen from the arsenals of the former regime of Saddam Hussein.
The amnesty offer was announced after a meeting of Turkey's National
Security Council on Friday, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the council has been divided
between those who seek Turkish intervention in northern Iraq
and those who urge restraint in the area.
Turkish Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said the legislation would
offer pardons to insurgents who merely belong to the PKK, banned by Ankara.
Those who were convicted or accused of attacks on Turks would see a
significant reduction of their sentences if they cooperate with authorities.
"This is a new and very serious step by the government to establish
social peace," Aksu said.
Aksu said senior PKK commanders would not benefit from the legislation.