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Kurdish Hunger Strike Ends, Jailed Leader Offers Hope Of New Talks



ISTANBUL - Hundreds of Kurdish militants in Turkey have ended a two-month-long hunger strike following the appeal of the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party  (PKK) leader on Sunday, daily Radikal reported.

Abdullah Ocalan, who has been on the prison island of Imrali since 1999, called on his followers to end their protest, saying that there was hope of reviving talks to end the decades-long conflict between the PKK and Turkey.

“We take into consideration the appeal of (Kurdish leader) Abdullah Ocalan and put a halt to our action beginning November 18," Deniz Kaya, a spokesman of jailed Kurdish prisoners, told the pro-Kurdish news agency Firatnews.

Three recent visits by a Turkish delegation to Ocalan’s prison in Imrali helped paved the way for Ocalan to call upon the end of the hunger strike, according to Radikal.

On Sept. 12, 64 Kurdish political prisoners embarked on a hunger strike with three core demands: the release or re-trial of Ocalan, the right to defend themselves in their mother tongue in court and the right to study in Kurdish.

Over the past two months up to 700 Kurds have joined the movement, including members of the Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party (BDP).

The Turkish government ignored the pleas of the strikers, which added fuel to their cause. Turkish Prime Minister  Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the movement “blackmail,” vowing that the government would not “ bow down to it.”

In 2009, Erdogan publicly declared that the country had a “Kurdish Problem,” which paved the way to a “ Kurdish initiative” that initially set out to provide greater rights for the Kurdish community, but has since disintegrated because of the rising violence between the two sides in southeastern Turkey.

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