Ocalan call ends hunger strikes by Kurdish MPs and inmates

Several Kurdish deputies, as well as thousands of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, have ended their hunger strike, in wake of a call from Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Reuters reported on Sunday.

Both the lawmakers and the inmates made statements on Sunday and indicated that they had ended the hunger strike in line with a call from Ocalan.

They had gone on hunger strike to demand that the isolation imposed by the Turkish government on jailed Ocalan be lifted so that he can see his family and lawyers regularly.

The MP’s statement came 200 days after the protest action was launched, following the call of the jailed PKK leader, which was read out by one of his lawyers at a news conference in Istanbul on Sunday morning.

Ocalan said: “Comrades who have committed themselves to hunger strikes and death fasts, I expect you to end your protest.”

The imprisoned leader made the call after Ankara let him meet his lawyers on May 22, for the second time this month, explaining that their hunger strikes and death fasts had served its purpose.

It was only the second time he had seen his lawyers since 2011.

Ended after 85 days

Dersim Dag, Tayip Temel, and Murat Sarisac, MP’s from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced on Sunday that they ended their hunger strike on the 85th day.

“Long live the prison resistance,” the mothers of the hunger strikers chanted in Kurdish and applauded.

Temel also read the HDP Hakkari deputy Leyla Guven’s message written in Kurdish, which declared the end of her hunger strike which was initiated in November 2018.

She was being transported to a hospital at the time when Temel was reading the written statement on her behalf.

“But our struggle against isolation and our struggle for social peace will continue in all areas. This struggle must lead to an honorable peace,” she emphasized.

Guven underlined that Ocalan’s chance to make his ideas heard by others is not just important for the Kurdish people but for all the communities in Turkey.

Referring to those who committed suicide for the same cause, she said: “Zulkuf Gezen, Ayten Becet, Zehra Saglam, Medya Cinar, Yonca Akici, Sirac Yuksek, Mahsum Pamay, Umit Acar, and Ugur Sakar. They are the true owners and heroes of this process.”

Guven also referred to the 30 inmates who turned their hunger strikes into death fasts nearly a month ago. She stressed that they have manifested their “unshakable willpower.”

Death fasts ended 

The Kurdish inmates who have been on hunger strike also made a statement that was read by Deniz Kaya, their representative, on Sunday.

“We end our hunger strikes and death fasts in line with our leader’s call,” the inmates said in the statement, adding that they regard the call as “a responsibility that must be fulfilled.”

The Kurdish inmates highlighted that they received significant support from human rights organizations, law associations, and intellectuals in Turkey and across the world.

They also expressed their respect and thanks to the family members, especially mothers of the strikers, who have held sit-in protests in front of jails and attempted to make public statements despite violent police interventions to show their support to the prisoners.

“We will be strong physically, mentally and spiritually to accompany him [Ocalan] in his struggle for peace,” the inmates also promised.

Two weeks ago, Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul made a public statement and announced that Ankara has lifted a ban on lawyers visiting Ocalan in Imrali, an island prison where he has been held since he was captured in Kenya in 1999.

Some critics have claimed that the move might be an attempt to win over Kurdish voters by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for the upcoming mayoral re-run polls in Istanbul.

The pro-Kurdish HDP, which supported AKP’s rival secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate in the March 31 local elections, announced that they will do the same on the June 23 election re-run.

CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu narrowly beat AKP’s candidate in the Istanbul mayoral race on March 31, but the election authorities annulled the vote, citing irregularities.

Ocalan is the founder and the leader of the PKK militant group, which is deemed a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the European Union and the United States.

More than 40,000 people have died in the clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK since the latter launched a separatist insurgency in Turkey’s southeast in 1984.

Some of the worst violence since the insurgency began was unleashed in 2015 when talks between Ocalan and Ankara on a peace process and a ceasefire broke down.

Since then, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP has formed alliances with nationalists who vilify the PKK leader and object to the peace process.

Turkey lifts visit ban on jailed PKK leader – says minister

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