Thousands of Kurds rallied in towns across Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast on Sunday and some clashed with riot police in calling for the release of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on the 16th anniversary of his capture. Ocalan, leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK), is viewed by nationalist Turks as responsible for the deaths of tens of
thousands of people in the group’s 30-year armed struggle with the Turkish army. But for many of Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds, the 65-year-old represents their bitter struggle for greater cultural and political rights. Ocalan may call an end to the PKK’s armed struggle by March, some people close to the process say. But some also say that unrest in the southeast suggests the PKK is flexing its muscles as it looks to stamp its authority on the mainly Kurdish region.