Kurdish militants occupy Council of Europe building

13th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

About 50 Kurdish militants occupied a building of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Tuesday to demand the release by Turkey of jailed rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan.

Supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) gathered outside the Agora building facing the Palace of Europe, the seat of the representatives of 47 member states of the council, an AFP journalist witnessed.

Breaking a window at the entrance to the Agora, they then entered the hall crying "Free Ocalan" and "Solidarity with the Kurdish people" while waving flags with the jailed leader's picture on them.

"It is now 48 days that we haven't had any news about Abdullah Ocalan, we are here to demand news," one of the protesters told AFP.

An official told AFP the council wished to negotiate a peaceful solution with the protesters, but said there would be no talks under duress.

At the end of July, Ocalan, who was jailed for life in 1999, said he would end peace negotiations with the Turkish government, and demanded his release.

The Kurdish political leadership, in unison with the PKK, demands autonomy, an amnesty for the rebels and Kurdish-language education in state schools.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe.

© 2011 AFP

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