Turkey prepares to pull down statue of slain PKK commander

Denounced as unwanted result of Erdogan's policy

DIYARBAKIR - A newly unveiled statue of a militant commander who planned the first attacks of the Kurdistan Workers Party's 30-year insurgency against the Turkish authorities is to be demolished, a court ruled on Monday.
The monument to Mahsum Korkmaz, a PKK commander killed in 1986, was just unveiled on Saturday in the village of Yolacti in the majority Kurdish Diyarbakir province in southeast Turkey.
But the move sparked outrage among nationalists who denounced it as the unwanted result of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's policy of granting greater rights to Turkey's Kurdish minority.
A court in Lice ordered that the statue be demolished after the Diyarbakir governor's office launched a legal complaint on Sunday, the Dogan news agency reported.
Preparations are already under way to pull down the statue, according to a reporter at the scene.
The monument -- which shows Korkmaz standing on a high triangular plinth dressed for battle and with a rifle by his side -- was placed in a new cemetery for slain PKK fighters.
It had been unveiled on the 30th anniversary of the first attacks by the PKK in the southeastern towns of Eruh and Semdinli on August 15, 1984.
The head of Turkey's ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahceli called the statue a "very clear and dirty challenge to our moral and historic rights."
Turkey is seeking to restart stalled peace talks with the PKK -- which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies -- to end a conflict that claimed an estimated 40,000 lives.
The jailed head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, said in a statement Saturday that the 30-year conflict was "coming to an end".