An MP for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as well as some family members of the Kurdish inmates on hunger strike were hospitalized after Turkish police used pressurized water and pepper-spray to break up their peaceful protest, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Thursday.
Nuran Imir, a pro-Kurdish HDP deputy and a number of Kurdish prisoners’ family members who wanted to make a statement regarding the inmates’ hunger strike, were on Thursday prevented by the police in Sirnak’s Silopi district.
According to the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), mothers from Idil, Cizre and Silopi districts of Sirnak as well as some HDP members including Imir gathered in HDP’s district building.
The police officers who surrounded the party building as the protesters were gathering there, prevented the mothers that were holding photos of their children in their hands from making a statement in front of the building.
MA reported that the officers reminded the protesters that the Sirnak governor decided to ban protests, statements, and marches regarding the inmates who are on hunger strike in the city for 15 days.
Arguing that the decision was arbitrary, HDP MP Imir started to make the statement on behalf of the inmates’ family members despite the warning from the police.
The Turkish police then began using water cannons on the protesters which resulted in some of the mothers falling to the ground due to the pressurized water. Encircling the protesters, the police also pepper-sprayed them at close range, according to MA’s report on Thursday.
Most of the mothers along with Imir who took shelter in the building started feeling sick due to the police attack.
Coming out of the building after a while, Imir told police officers that she will file criminal complaints against each of them.
“You have crossed the line against a deputy. You should have known your places,” she told the officers.
The deputy and some of the prisoners’ mothers were taken to the Silopi State Hospital for treatment.
The hunger strike, which was initiated by the pro-Kurdish HDP MP Leyla Guven on November 7, 2018, was later on joined by thousands of Kurdish prisoners, activists, artists and politicians in Turkey and across the world.
Guven’s hunger strike was in protest against the aggravated isolation regime imposed by the Turkish government on Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
On May 2, Ocalan told his lawyers that although he respects the protesters’ resistance in and out of prison, it’s important not to take this protest to a point that would harm their health and result in death.
“We value their mental, physical and spiritual health above anything else. We think that the most meaningful approach would be to improve mental and spiritual stance,” he argued.
Ocalan has been held mostly in solitary confinement in Imrali, an island prison in the Marmara Sea since he was arrested in 1999.
The PKK, a militant group that has stirred up a decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984, is regarded as a terrorist organization by Ankara.