REUTERS, AFP, BBC
ANKARA — Militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced in a statement Monday that they are halting their withdrawal from Turkey, citing the Turkish government’s failure to keep its part of the peace deal, Reuters reports.
The militants said their decision did not affect the ceasefire it announced in March. “While the withdrawal is halted, the ceasefire position will be maintained so as to give the ruling AK Party an opportunity to take steps in line with Leader Apo Abdullah Ocalan’s project,” the statement said.
The fighters from PKK — which the Turkish government, the European Union and the United States consider a terrorist organization — began withdrawing into northern Iraq in May. In exchange for their withdrawal, the Turkish government was expected to improve Kurdish rights and allow the Kurdish minority that dominates the southeast some regional autonomy. The government also said it would provide education in Kurdish, AFP reports.
But Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan is reported to have said last month that the PKK had not kept its promise, given that only 20% of the rebels had left the country.
The conflict between the Kurdish rebels and Turkey has claimed 40,000 lives since it started in 1984.