14 March 2012
For immediate release
Twenty Kurdish activists in London have begun a hunger strike today, Wednesday 14 March at 8am. Fedbir, the Kurdish Federation UK, will be staging the hunger strike on the northern terrace of Trafalgar Square until the 17th of March, in parallel with similar actions which have been taking place within Turkey and across Europe.
Hundreds of prisoners in Turkish jails, including imprisoned members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party and other elected officials, have been on hunger strike since the end of February. The hunger strikes are a desperate plea to the Turkish government to halt the latest clampdown on Kurdish political organising and protest. In the last three years, some 8000 people – including elected MP’s mayors and local councillors, journalists, students, human rights activists, and academics – have been sent to prison in what Prime Minister Erdogan’s government refers to as counter-terrorism operations.
In reality, these operations constitute major violations of human rights, with arrests being made over speeches, newspaper articles or even poems that support Kurdish rights in Turkey. Amnesty International has recently expressed it concern over the vague and broad anti-terror laws in Turkey that define terrorism not by its tactics but by its political aims, which has led to thousands of individuals being prosecuted for membership of a terrorist organisation or for denigrating ‘Turkishness’.
The strikers are also demanding freedom for Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who is currently jailed in the prison island of Imrali. Ocalan has been in almost complete isolation, without access to lawyers, since July 2011. Indeed, 36 of his defence team were also arrested and imprisoned in December 2012.