November 19, 2012

Kurdish Hunger Strikers Win Victory, Call Off Strike

We have previously covered the efforts of the brave Kurdish hunger strikers imprisoned in Turkey. We are pleased with the following developments.

Deputies from the progressive Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and imprisoned Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan both separately called on November 17 for an end to hunger strikes taking place in Turkish prisons. The strike began on September 12 and involved 1700 Kurdish prisoners.

One of the key demands of the strike has been won. Abdullah Ocalan has been allowed to visit with his brother, Mehmet. Senior Turkish intelligence officers have also conferred privately with Ocalan.

Öcalan conveyed his massage through Mehmet Öcalan. He said, "I am calling to everybody who is currently on hunger strikes, especially the ones who started earliest. Without any hesitation, you can end your strikes right now. It was very meaningful. The hunger strike acheived its goal. Even if some will continue the strikes, it shouldn't be the prisoners."

BDP Deputy Aysel Tuğluk briefly visited the Diyarbakır prison on Saturday after Öcalan's appeal. "Inmates' motivations were good. We brought Öcalan's message to them. They will most likely follow Öcalan's appeal," she said. "We are glad that hunger strikes ended without any deaths."

Gülten Kışanak, deputy co-chair of the BDP, said that the hunger strikes had reached one of their key goals. “A very important message came from İmrali [referring to Abdullah Öcalan]. He proved how much he cares about human lives. He contributed to the end of the hunger strikes by calling on inmates before anyone died,” Kışanak said at a press conference in Diyarbakır on Saturday. BDP deputies and supporters also voiced caution because not all of the demands made by the prisoners have been won.

Prisoners, with mass support, launched their strikes on September 12 to demand an end to the isolation of Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on İmralı island, as well as to end to restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language in the courts and in education.

Zübeyde Teker, president of the Associations of Help for Prisoners' Families Federation, declared the end of hunger strikes early on Sunday after 520 prisoners at the Izmir prison consulted with their lawyers and took their final decision.

1 comment:

ethnicguy said...

Armenian Weekly ran the following about the close of the strike:

"Until the very last day of the hunger strike, protests continued in the Kurdish-populated areas as well as major cities in Turkey. Heeding the call of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the days leading up to the end of the hunger strike withnessed strikes and demonstrations across the Kurdish regions.

In Diyarbakir, as tens of thousands of Kurds in Diyarbakir prepared to gather at a park in the city to start a two-day hunger strike on Nov. 17, hundreds of armored vehicles sealed off the area and prevented the protesters from entering it.

Police resorted to tear gas and water cannons, and fired shots in the air, to keep the demonstrators at bay. Close to a hundred protesters were arrested.

The tension between the police and protesters continued until the early evening, when the statement by Ocalan gradually calmed the situation."