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Kurds protest in Bern at Turkish military campaign

Kurds protest peacefully in Bern for the release of the separatist leader, Abdullah Ocalan, from a Turkish prison Keystone

Around 800 Kurds converged in front of Switzerland's Houses of Parliament in the Swiss capital, Bern, on Saturday to protest at the Turkish military crackdown on Kurds along Turkey's borders and in Iraq.

The Turkish media reported on Saturday that Ankara has sent 10,000 of its troops into Northern Iraq in a major operation against rebel guerrillas of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Newpapers have reported since December that the military was building up its strength for an offensive in the remote mountainous area.

The Protesters also demanded the release of the PKK leader of, Abdullah Ocalan, who was arrested in 1999 and condemned to death for “separatism and treason”.

The PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire soon after Ocalan’s arrest, and many fighters withdrew their arms outside Turkey’s borders.

The PKK have been fighting for an independent homeland for 15 years.

The demonstration, organised by a Kurdish association based in Bern, passed off peacefully.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR