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Turkey’s Kurds Rally for Peace, But Mistrust Lingers

A crowd of 600,000 turned out to celebrate Newroz and hear a message from Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in support of Turkish-Kurdish peace talks, Sibel Utku Bila reports from Diyarbakir.
Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags and flags with portraits of the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan during a gathering to celebrate Newroz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir March 21, 2013. Ocalan ordered his fighters on Thursday to cease fire and withdraw from Turkish soil as a step to ending a conflict that has killed 40,000 people, riven the country and battered its economy. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds, gathered in the regional centre of Diyarbakir, cheered and wav

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Hundreds of thousands of Kurds rallied here on March 21 in a euphoric show of support for fledgling peace talks between the Turkish government and jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, but a sense of mistrust and belligerence toward Ankara lingered in the festive air.

The huge crowd that packed the venue in Diyarbakir, the largest city of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, sent out a powerful message re-affirming Ocalan as their leader and endorsing his call on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to “silence the guns” and pull out beyond Turkish borders to pave the way for a negotiated settlement.

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