As tensions continue to flare between the Turkish government and the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) after Ankara launched an offensive on Kurdish fighters in recent weeks, Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) called on the PKK on Saturday to silence its arms and reestablish a ceasefire with the government.
“We are making a call today to both sides,” HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas said on Saturday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. “PKK should immediately remove their hands from the trigger, declaring that it would comply with the terms of the reinforced ceasefire. The government should immediately set the military operation option aside, declaring that it is ready for negotiations and dialogue.”
Turkey put an end to the ceasefire with the PKK, agreed to in 2013, when Ankara launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters in July. At the same time, Turkish forces also unleashed a series of airstrikes on Kurdish positions in northern Iraq and Syria two weeks ago, though the government claimed these attacks aimed to weaken the Islamic State group.
In response to the violation of the ceasefire, the PKK said it would also step up its offense.
The HDP's Demirtas called on both sides to put a stop to the violence and resume peace talks, saying “peace is an urgent duty” and that the government and ruling AKP are “obliged” to reach a peace agreement.
But it was not Demirtas’ first call for peace. Earlier this week, he separately called on government officials and President Erdogan's AKP to cease the violent offensive, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Demirtas' comments also come after he traveled to Brussels on Thursday to meet with senior members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). After the meeting, Demirtas said the work of reaching peace had to be done at home in Ankara and with the AKP, not in Brussels, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
On Saturday, demonstrators in Brussels marched to protest against the Turkey government's aggressions against Kurdish groups and showed support for jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Protesters wave flags with the picture of PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan during a demonstration in central Brussels, August 8, 2015. I Photo: Reuters
Turkish police operations against the PKK and other suspected radicals have detained some 1,600 people in the past two weeks, according to EFE.
Recent clashes between the PKK and the government have killed more than 260 Kurdish fighters, Andalou Agency reported last week. Some two dozen members of Turkish security forces have also been killed, according to Hurriyet Daily News, as well as several civilians.
Turkey's new campaign against the Kurds and the spike in tensions with the PKK has come after a terror attack in the southern Turkish town of Suruc killed at least 33 Kurdish socialist activists.