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Switzerland calls on Turkey not to execute Ocalan

The Swiss government on Tuesday called on Turkey not to carry out the death sentence against Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, saying this would lead to renewed violence throughout Europe.

This content was published on June 29, 1999 - 13:29

The Swiss government on Tuesday called on Turkey not to carry out the death sentence against Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, saying this would lead to renewed violence throughout Europe.

The government’s reaction came a few hours after a Turkish court found Ocalan guilty of treason for his role in a Kurdish separatist campaign in which over 29,000 people were killed.

According to political observers in Turkey, the public mood appears at present to be strongly in favour of carrying out the execution, probably on Imrali Island, where Ocalan has been held since his capture. But Ocalan's case must pass first to the appeals court and then to parliament for ratification.

The Swiss government issued a statement expressing concern about the death sentence.

The execution of Ocalan would trigger “a new wave of violence in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe,” the statement said. “The death of Ocalan would not contribute to a peaceful solution for the Kurdish conflict.”

A Kurdish committee in Geneva said it refused to accept the death sentence and warned that Ocalan’s rebel Kurdistan Workers Party would spread its armed campaign against the Turkish authorities.

“On Tuesday, Turkey lost a unique opportunity to end the war between Turks and Kurds,” a spokesman for the committee said.

He called on the international community to “end its silence” over the Kurdish issue and asked the Swiss government to intervene with the Turkish government on behalf of Ocalan.

Two Social Democrat members of the Swiss parliament, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold and Peter Vollmer, again called for an international conference to find a negotiated settlement of the Kurdish conflict.

Vollmer said he planned to contact members of the Turkish parliament to discuss the situation, while Vermot-Mangold said that Switzerland must do more in order to help avoid an escalation of violence in Turkey.


Sources: APD, sda-ats, Reuters

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