A hunger strike started by the 8000 Kurdish politicians imprisoned in Turkey has now turned into an indefinite-irreversible hunger strike as a result of the complete disregard of the protest by the Turkish government. The first group of indefinite hunger strikers began their strike on the 20th of January 2012 to coincide with the 13th anniversary of Abdullah Ocalan’s handing over to Turkey as a result of an international conspiracy. Among the 400 strikers there are two elected MPs of the BDP, Selma Irmak and Faysal Sariyildiz.
The Turkish government’s concept of war against the Kurds and the forces of democracy
If in a country hundreds of people, including elected politicians, are starving themselves to raise awareness against persecution then that country requires closer inspection. The political authority by choosing to approach Turkey’s most important issue with violence and elimination rather than dialogue and negotiation is pushing the whole country into a dark future. The AKP government is quashing anything in the name of peace, democracy and freedom with an all out concept of war. In only the last few months unlawfully administered cross-border military operations have resulted in the deaths of 41 civilians; chemical weapons have been deployed against the guerilla forces and deaths on both sides have risen. Since 2009, in accordance with the countries anti-terror laws the operations against Kurdish politicians have continued, among the imprisoned are Members of Parliament, Mayors, local councilors, writers, journalists, human rights activists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, lawyers, trade unionists and students. All in all a total number of over 6000 people have been put in prison.
Negotiations that had started in 2006 between the Kurdish people’s leader Mr. Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish state did not lead to any positive steps being taken by the state and were consequently ceased in July 2011 by the AKP government. Since this date, an intensified policy of isolation has been applied to Mr. Ocalan and the 5 other inmates at the island prison of Imrali. Mr. Ocalan is a significant actor in the Kurdish question. The government’s complete disregard of this fact is evident in its 7 month long isolation of Mr. Ocalan. This course of action is distancing Turkey from the road to peace and day by day is moving the country towards a dangerous time. We, the Kurdish people, are seriously concerned for Mr. Ocalan’s health.
The Western powers that jump around and hassle over even the smallest developments in the Middle East play death and dumb when it comes to the Kurdish people. Even relevant international organizations turn a blind eye to developments. Although the CPT is the only organization that can visit the prison of Imrali, they have not taken any steps to appease the worries of the Kurdish people. This is why the Kurdish people, whether imprisoned or outside, are starving themselves – till death if necessary – so that awareness can be raised and action can be taken.
Selma Irmak, an elected MP who is taking part in the indefinite hunger strike, explained her decision for taking part as follows: “To be forced to watch all the events unfold while handcuffed must be one of the worst things that can happen to anyone in our time. For over thirty years our people have approved of a democratic solution. The foundation to a solution of this problem must surely start with dialogue and negotiations with Mr. Ocalan. Every struggle has a lead actor. The person who has taken up the leadership of this people is Mr. Ocalan, therefore only he has been given the right to speak on behalf of the Kurdish people. I am worried, just as everyone else is, with not only the ceasing of the dialogue between the state and Mr. Ocalan but also with the consequent intensification of the isolation of Mr. Ocalan.
The Kurdish people living in Europe undertook a long march between Geneva and Strasbourg in freezing temperatures of -20 degrees under the title of ‘Freedom to Ocalan – status to Kurdistan’ to raise awareness of the plight of the Kurdish people. After the march a huge demonstration attended by 60.000 people was carried out in Strasbourg. It is clear that the efforts of Kurds and their friends have not yet raised the necessary level of awareness. Due to the urgency and significance of the problem in hand an indefinite-irreversible hunger strike is underway.
The European institutions and public must not remain indifferent to these developments. It must not be forgotten that the persecution and suppression that the Kurds have suffered over the years could not have materialized without the support of certain European and Western states. The European Union, and the states that form it, must not be a party to the cruel suppression of the Kurdish people by remaining silent in order to protect conjectural economic interests. Our expectations of the European and democratic public domain is that they no longer be bystanders to the plight of the Kurdish people and help in finding a fair and just solution to the Kurdish question.
The Kurds are screaming: We want justice. We want the freedom of our Leader Ocalan and all political prisoners. We want a just solution to the Kurdish question using democratic means and practices. We want to live freely in our country just like all other peoples. Please hear our call and our voices.
The Hunger Strikers’ demands:
1 – Elimination of existing fears about Ocalan’s health and safety issue, which has escalated to a severe extent, as quickly as possible by the European Council and its affiliates.
2 – Elimination of the strict isolation of Ocalan, which causes extreme discomfort to the Kurdish people and which may also become the reason and cause for a great war and countless deaths, and the urgent creation of an environment in which Ocalan can meet with his lawyers.
3 – Attempts towards freedom for Ocalan and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue by foremost the European Council and international institutions.
4 – Monitoring of the Turkish state by the European Council, regarding the ongoing oppressive and violent policies against the Kurdish people, and the freezing of Turkey’s membership if no action towards a policy change occurs.
5 – The European Union and European states to abandon the attitudes which up till now and still supports Turkey’s violence and denial policies and to utilise their influence for a fair and peaceful resolution to the Kurdish Issue. As a first and initial step for this, the removal of the Kurdish Freedom Movement from the Terror Lists in which it has been unjustly placed.
6 – The solution of the Kurdish Issue via democratic and political channels and the urgent creation of an environment for Mr Ocalan to conduct politics, and the involvement of international agencies and institutes to achieve this aim.
7 – Active cooperation and support of democratic international public and agencies for Kurdish peoples’ democracy, freedom and peace struggle.
Please lend an ear to the calls of the people who are putting their lives on the line for peace and resolution