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DATE=12/30/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=TURKEY / KURDS (PART TWO OF THREE) NUMBER=5-45147 BYLINE=AMBERIN ZAMAN DATELINE=DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY CONTENT= VOICED AT: //// ED'S: THE SECOND OF THREE REPORTS ABOUT THE SITUATION IN TURKEY'S MOSTLY KURIDSH SOUTHEASTERN REGION. //// INTRO: Hopes are growing for a lasting peace in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeastern provinces. Clashes between Turkish government forces and rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' party, the P-K-K, are receding in the wake of a rebel cease-fire. In the second of three reports about this new climate in Turkey's Kurdish region, Amberin Zaman reports from Diyarbakir on the expanding political debate about the future of Turkey's 12-million Kurds. TEXT: /// PRO-P-K-K KURDISH MUSIC - FADE UNDER /// "Rebellion is life." The lyrics of this banned Kurdish song still trigger loud cheers and frenzied folk dances at gatherings here. But it no longer reflects the prevailing mood in Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast provinces. In Diyarbakir, the political nerve center of these harshly beautiful, mountainous lands, it is "democratic republic," not "independent Kurdistan" that are the buzz words throughout noisy street bazaars and high-brow intellectual circles. A "democratic republic" encompassing Turks and Kurds is what imprisoned P-K-K leader Abdullah Ocalan has called for since his dramatic capture by Turkish special forces last February in Kenya. Ocalan declared that Kurdish autonomy and independence were no longer realistic goals during his month-long court room trial last June. The P-K-K leader, who was handed the death sentence on treason charges, said granting of long-denied cultural rights would be more than enough to satisfy the Kurds' demands. Ocalan has since ordered his fighters to pull out of Turkey and to end their 15-year armed campaign fight. Ocalan's reversal has taken both his critics and supporters by surprise. Cezair Serin is the mayor of Diyarbakir's bustling commercial Surici district. Mr. Serin was elected together with 38 other members of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party or HADEP in elections last April. /// SERIN ACT ONE - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER /// The mayor says he agrees that ethnic nationalism is an outdated concept, and says that he and his party will do everything possible to promote peace. Still, Ocalan's reversal has triggered accusations among his erstwhile supporters that his peace overtures are merely aimed at saving his own life. Many question whether the 15-year rebellion that has claimed nearly 40-thousand lives has been worth it. Like many Kurdish politicians and activists, Mr. Serin says it is --in his words -- fruitless to dwell on the past. Instead, he says Kurds should seek to consolidate their gains. What are they? Like many, Mr. Serin responds that today Kurds are no longer afraid to say that that is what they are - Kurds - and that their problems are now - largely thanks to the P-K-K insurgency - known throughout the world. Hanefi Isik is the regional representative of the Ankara-based Turkish Human Rights Association. Mr. Isik says the daily lives of Kurds in the region has improved dramatically in recent months. /// ISIK ACT - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Isik says Turkish security forces appear much more relaxed in the wake of the P-K-K cease-fire and now treat local citizens, in his words - more gently. He says torture and arbitrary detentions have sharply decreased. Cemil Serhatli is Diyarbakir's new governor. He says the Turkish government is doing its best to restore confidence in the government among civilians throughout the region. /// SERHATLI ACT - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Serhatli says measures include helping villagers displaced by the fighting to return to their homes, as well as providing free education and health for them. But many, like Hadep's Cezair Serin, say that unless the Turkish government takes urgent steps to address the Kurds' demands for greater cultural freedom, the atmosphere of peace could give way to renewed violence. /// SERIN ACT TWO - IN TURKISH - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Serin says a crucial first step in moving peace forward would be full amnesty for thousands of P-K-K rebels in the mountains and for about 10-thousand P-K- K militants and sympathizers locked up in Turkish jails. He says other steps would be to ease restrictions on Kurdish language broadcasting and education, and to do away with bans that effectively bar free debate of the Kurdish issue and others deemed - threatening to the unity of the Turkish state. And, Mr. Serin argues that Kurds should be permitted to freely sing songs, even if they are about rebellion, without facing imprisonment. (SIGNED) NEB/AZ/JWH/RAE 30-Dec-1999 07:46 AM EDT (30-Dec-1999 1246 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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