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DATE=6/29/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43755 TITLE=OCALAN / NEWSMAKER BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=MUDANYA, TURKEY CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: KURDISH REBEL LEADER ABDULLAH OCALAN HAS BEEN CONVICTED OF TREASON AND SENTENCED TO DEATH FOLLOWING A FOUR-WEEK TRIAL ON AN ISLAND PRISON OFF THE COAST OF TURKEY. THE CONVICTION, HOWEVER, MUST BE APPROVED BY AN APPEALS COURT AND ULTIMATELY BY THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT. KURDISH LEADERS HAVE WARNED THAT EXECUTING MR. OCALAN COULD LEAD TO AN INCREASE IN VIOLENCE FOR, ALTHOUGH HE IS VIEWED BY MANY TURKS AS A RUTHLESS TERRORIST, MR. OCALAN IS REVERED BY MANY KURDS AS A FOUNDER OF THEIR AUTONOMY MOVEMENT. V-O-A CORRESPONDENT SCOTT BOBB HAS THIS PROFILE OF THE KURDISH LEADER. TEXT: WHETHER OR NOT THE DEATH PENALTY IS CARRIED OUT AGAINST MR. OCALAN, IT IS ALMOST CERTAIN THAT HIS CAREER AS ONE OF THE MOST FEARED OPPONENTS OF THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT IS OVER. FOR EVEN IF HIS LIFE IS SPARED, THE STOCKY, MUSTACHIOED REBEL LEADER IS LIKELY EITHER TO LANGUISH IN PRISON, MARGINALIZED FROM HIS ORGANIZATION, OR LAUNCH A NEW CAREER AS A POLITICIAN AND EMISSARY OF PEACE. SUCH A CHANGE WOULD NOT SURPRISE MANY OBSERVERS. FOR, ABDULLAH OCALAN IS A MIXTURE OF CONTRADICTIONS. CONSIDERED BRUTAL AND THUGGISH BY HIS OPPONENTS, HE IS VIEWED AS GIFTED AND CHARISMATIC BY HIS FOLLOWERS. A RESPECTED LEADER OF THE ARMED KURDISH MOVEMENT, HE REPORTEDLY NEVER SAW BATTLE. AND ALTHOUGH HE IS ONE OF THE FATHERS OF THE MOVEMENT TO PROMOTE KURDISH CULTURE, HE REPORTEDLY IS MORE COMFORTABLE SPEAKING TURKISH THAN THE KURDISH LANGUAGE. ABDULLAH OCALAN WAS BORN 50 YEARS AGO TO A POOR FARMING FAMILY IN SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY, NEAR TURKEYS BORDER WITH SYRIA. AS A YOUNG MAN, HE WANTED TO BE A SOLDIER AND TRIED TO ENLIST IN THE TURKISH ARMY. HE WAS REJECTED, HOWEVER, HE SAYS, BECAUSE HE WAS OF KURDISH ORIGIN. SO INSTEAD, HE ENTERED ANKARA UNIVERSITY'S COMPETITIVE POLITICAL SCIENCE FACULTY. HE SOON BECAME A MARXIST SYMPATHIZER AND A KURDISH NATIONALIST. IN 1972, HE WAS IMPRISONED FOR A NUMBER OF MONTHS FOR PRO-KURDISH ACTIVITIES AND LEFT THE UNIVERSITY. HE SUBSEQUENTLY FOUNDED THE KURDISTAN WORKERS PARTY, OR P-K-K, AND LAUNCHED THE KURDISH AUTONOMY MOVEMENT. JUST BEFORE THE MILITARY COUP IN TURKEY IN 1980, ABDULLAH OCALAN FLED TO SYRIA AND SET UP TRAINING CAMPS IN THE LEBANESE PLAINS WHICH WERE UNDER SYRIAN CONTROL. APO, AS HE IS KNOWN TO HIS SUPPORTERS, LAUNCHED HIS ARMED STRUGGLE ON AUGUST 15TH, 1984. IN SUBSEQUENT YEARS, THE P-K-K STAGED MANY ATTACKS ON TURKISH SECURITY FORCES AND ON KURDISH VILLAGES THAT SUPPORTED THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT. AN ESTIMATED 30-THOUSAND PEOPLE, INCLUDING MANY WOMEN AND CHILDREN, HAVE BEEN KILLED IN THE ATTACKS. DURING THE 1990'S, MR. OCALAN DECLARED A CEASEFIRE ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS AND OFFERED TO ENTER INTO PEACE NEGOTIATIONS. BUT THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT REFUSED ANY DEAL AND VOWED TO CRUSH HIS ORGANIZATION. LAST OCTOBER, THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT THREATENED TO INVADE SYRIA IF IT CONTINUED TO SUPPORT MR. OCALAN. MEDIATION BY EGYPT AVOIDED ANY CONFRONTATION AND BROUGHT ASSURANCES FROM DAMASCUS THAT MR. OCALAN HAD LEFT THE COUNTRY. IN NOVEMBER, MR. OCALAN SURRENDERED TO POLICE IN ITALY AND ASKED FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM. HE WAS REFUSED AFTER A STRONG PROTEST BY TURKEY, AND LEFT TWO MONTHS LATER. A NUMBER OF OTHER EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS ALSO TURNED DOWN HIS REQUEST FOR ASYLUM. AND MR. OCALAN EVENTUALLY TOOK REFUGE IN GREECE, A REGIONAL RIVAL TO TURKEY. HOWEVER, HIS PRESENCE MADE EVEN THE GREEK GOVERNMENT UNCOMFORTABLE. AND IN FEBRUARY, MR. OCALAN WAS FLOWN TO KENYA, REPORTEDLY SEEKING ASYLUM IN SOUTHERN AFRICA. UNDER CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH STILL HAVE NOT BEEN FULLY EXPLAINED, HE ENDED UP SEDATED AND IN HANDCUFFS ON A PRIVATE PLANE FLYING TO TURKEY AND IN THE CUSTODY OF TURKISH SPECIAL AGENTS. THE ARREST SPARKED VIOLENT PROTESTS BY KURDISH SYMPATHIZERS IN SEVERAL EUROPEAN CAPITALS. AT THE OPENING OF HIS TRIAL, THE FEARED REBEL LEADER STARTLED TURKS AND KURDS ALIKE WHEN HE ASKED THE VICTIMS' FAMILIES FOR FORGIVENESS AND URGED THE COURT TO SPARE HIS LIFE SO HE COULD WORK FOR PEACE. HIS LAWYERS SAY SPARING MR. OCALAN'S LIFE WILL PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY TO END THE VIOLENCE. THE TURKISH GOVERNMENT, HOWEVER, IS ALSO UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE MILITARY AND SOLDIERS' FAMILIES TO EXECUTE HIM. NO MATTER WHAT HIS FATE ULTIMATELY IS, MR. OCALAN'S CASE HAS NOW MOVED FROM THE JURIDICAL STAGE TO THE POLITICAL ARENA. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/JWH/PLM 29-Jun-99 5:34 AM EDT (0934 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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