Death fast to protest Ocalan’s isolation

Fifteen Kurdish prisoners who are protesting the enforced isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), are on the 3rd day of their “death fast”, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Thursday.

The 15 Kurdish inmates from four different prisons, who have been on hunger strike for more than four months, turned their protest into a “death fast” on Tuesday.

The hunger strike, now joined by thousands of Kurdish prisoners, activists, and politicians in Turkey and across the world, was initiated by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven.

Guven went on a partial and indefinite hunger strike on November 7, 2018, demanding that the Turkish government end what she describes as the aggravated isolation regime imposed on Ocalan.

HDP lawmakers Dersim Dag, Tayip Temel, and Murat Sarisac have also been protesting in solidarity with Guven, who has been on hunger strike for 176 days.

Temel, who is on the 56th day of his hunger strike, called attention to the Kurdish prisoners on a death fast in a tweet that says: “It’s not days but hours that is drawing the 15 [inmates] closer to death.”

He also argued that the most terrifying way to die was to die of hunger.

“Without understanding why those inmates choose to pay this price, you cannot solve any problem in this country,” Temel said.

“Neither the political power [AK Party] nor the opposition can remain unresponsive to the terror of a body wasting away due to starvation. No intellectuals, artists or politicians can evade his conscientious responsibility,” the HDP MP further stated.

Ardil Cesme, one of the 15 inmates on a “death fast”, made a statement to the public through a phone call from the Gebze Women’s Closed Prison on Thursday.

“It’s time to take a step towards revolution. We are at a time when words have failed us. Therefore, it’s not the time to speak but to get into the act,” MA quoted Cesme as saying.

So far, seven inmates have committed suicide in protest against the isolation imposed on Ocalan by the Turkish government.

Police violence against Kurdish people, mostly mothers of the inmates who are on hunger strike, has become more frequent with some being manhandled and harassed after an attempt to stage sit-in protests in solidarity with the prisoners.

On Thursday, police officers detained three mothers who wanted to stage sit-in protest and make a press statement in a park in the Baglar district of Diyarbakir.

According to a report by the Gazete Duvar news portal on Thursday, the detentions took place after police forcefully cleared the mothers out of the park.

The police interventions followed remarks of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who vowed to stop HDP lawmakers attempting to show any kind of support to Guven and other hunger strikers.

Mustafa Sentop, speaker of Turkish Parliament, on Sunday rejected a call by the HDP to visit Guven during a TV program on CNN Turk, saying, “It’s not right to have demands about some convicted terrorist leader’s conditions in Imrali [prison].”

Since his arrest in 1999, Ocalan has been held mostly in solitary confinement in Imrali, an island prison in the Marmara Sea and has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011, his family members since 2014, and HDP lawmakers since April 2015.

The Turkish government accuses HDP of being linked to the PKK, a militant group regarded by Ankara as a terrorist organization that has stirred up a decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

Even though HDP denies the allegations, several party seniors, including the co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, have been in prison on various terrorism-related charges.

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