Turkey arrests 33 for suspected ties to Kurd rebels

AFP , Saturday 26 Nov 2011

Turkish media report that an arrest warrant was issued for 33 suspects links to he outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of 33 people on Saturday for suspected links to outlawed Kurdish rebels, media reports said.

Thirty-three out of 43 people who were transferred to the courthouse in Istanbul were arrested and 10 were released, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Last week, Turkish police detained more than 40 people after simultaneous raids at several addresses across the country.

Those arrested are accused of having links to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which Turkey claims to be the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK, which took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives, is labelled a terrorist outfit by Ankara and much of the international community.

Since 2009, some 700 people have been arrested over their alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures, although the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) puts the figure at more than 3,500.

Five BDP parliamentarians and two prominent intellectuals -- publisher Ragip Zarakolu and academic Busra Ersanli -- are in custody on the same charges.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that his government would not ease its crackdown on the KCK, which Ankara claims wants to replace Turkish government institutions in the southeastern Anatolia region with its own political structures.

Turkey, like Iraq, Iran and Syria, is home to a large Kurdish community.

Ocalan was jailed for life in 1999, but many Kurds in Turkey still consider him their leader.

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