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Ahead of elections, Turkey's Kurds step up demands for reform

Using campaign of civil disobedience, reminiscent of Tunisia and Egypt, Kurds in Turkey seek more rights.

But such sympathetic words are unlikely to appease the Kurdish population, which is seeking the release of BDP prisoners, amnesty for PKK fighters and the right to educate their children in Kurdish.

The Kurdish rebels have threatened to respond with force if those demands are not met. Already, after a six-month lull, violence is again rising. About 42 soldiers, rebels and civilians have been killed since the rebels announced an end to a unilateral cease-fire on Feb. 28.

Last month, the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, issued an ultimatum that unless talks begin over greater Kurdish rights within three days of the general election, the fighting will become even fiercer.

“A calamity is just around the corner. I am not pessimistic, I only possess the sensibility that emanates from intuition and foresight,” said Aysel Tugluk, another BDP-supported parliamentary candidate. “Once again we are at a crossroads. Everyone who is concerned about the Kurdish issue should know that we are moving towards ground zero, and fast.”