The Seminal Event
On November 12, 1998, Italian authorities arrested Abdullah Ocalan (pronounced URGE'ah-lohn), leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Rome on an international arrest mandate issued by Germany. (As the story breaks, however, this legal detail escapes some news sources, and the arrest is chalked up to vague crimes such as terrorism, murder, and treason.) Persona non grata in Turkey, Syria, Italy, and Russia, Ocalan was on a secret "tour" of European nations in the hope of political asylum after Turkey pressed exceedingly on Syria to expel the well-known terrorist from his strategic garrison in Damascus.
After the arrest in Italy, Turkey issued an international arrest warrant for Ocalan, though the Italian courts rejected the warrant because their constitution prohibits extradition to a country that permits the death penalty. The rejection sparked a sharp increase in the tension between the two nations: various diplomatic protests were lodged, major pro- and anti-Kurdish protests occurred, even a significant boycott of Italian goods by Turkish consumers was organized.
In Germany, the origin of the arrest mandate, the Kurdish community exerted the enormous pressure of violent disobedience, and Germany allowed their forty day limit to seek extradition expire.
An Arrest Timeline
On Topic Stories
On topic stories include the arrest in the airport, the Kurdish and Turkish communities' reactions to the arrest, and the consequence of possible violence in Turkey, Italy, and Germany. The legal acrobatics including Turkey's extradition request, Italy's refusal to extradite, and Germany's debate on whether or not to seek extradition are also on topic. Furthermore, the extraordinary pressures of the international Kurdish community, to the extent of cancelling soccer matches due to the potential of violence, are also on topic.
The recent Turkey-Syria tension is sourced in Syria's support of Ocalan and the PKK, culminating in Turkey's threat to invade if Ocalan were not turned over. As such, it may be the case that Ocalan articles are on topic for Topic #3028, Turkey-Syria Tension, or that Turkey-Syria Tension articles may be on topic for Ocalan's arrest.
A Short History
Ocalan founded the militant Kurdish separatist party in 1978 as an extreme-left nationalist group. Recruiting Kurds with his Marxist-Leninist and Kurdish nationalist themes, Ocalan first militarized the PKK in the mid-1980's with terrorist acts, and nearly 37,000 people have been killed in the armed campaign for self-rule since. In the 1990's, however, the Turkish army trained and outfitted their forces to counter the guerilla tactics of the mountaintop army, and, at present, have virtually eradicated their presence in Turkey.
Known as 'Apo' (Kurdish for 'Uncle') to his followers, Ocalan is viewed as a hero against the Turkish oppression of Kurdish nationalism; Turkish policies suppressed the language, culture, education and political rights of over 10 million Kurds living in Turkey, as an effort to crack down on the PKK goal of nationhood for the estimated 20 million Kurds around the world.
Ocalan's 15 year war with Turkey followed the example of Peru's Shining Path and Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, calling for a special blend of psychology and extreme violence. Previously charged with atrocities against children and the similarly defenseless, PKK soldiers have allegedly razed entire villages that refused to support their cause: frighteningly, the slaughter often focuses on school teachers blamed for propagating Turkish ideals.
In spite of a human rights record on par with Augusto Pincochet or Radovan Karadzic, Ocalan and his scorched earth tactics have highlighted the violent opposition of the Turkish as well. The massacre of PKK-sympathetic villages spotlighted Kurdish grievances in a very extreme manner, and the continued economic deprivation and social and political exclusion of the Kurds evidence the email@example.com