Kurdish MPs urge Turkey to free militant leader

July 21, 2012 23:59

ISTANBUL - Kurdish members of Turkey's parliament on Saturday called for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), saying an end to the group's 27-year conflict with the army is impossible while he is in prison.

Joined by human rights activists, the lawmakers also told a news conference that Ocalan has not seen his lawyers or family members for a full year and that such "inhumane" conditions raised concerns about his health and security.

"If there is going to be a negotiated peace, Ocalan's captivity must be ended," said Emine Ayna, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). "A negotiating table in which one side holds the key to the handcuffs of the other party won't yield any results."

Ocalan has been serving a life sentence on an island prison in the Sea of Marmara since his conviction for treason in 1999.

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