The hunger strikes launched in Turkish prisons to protest the isolation of Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, as well as rights violations in prisons more generally, have reached their 59th day with the 12th group of strikers.
There are also ongoing hunger strikes in Greece and Iraq. The strike in Iraq’s Makhmur Camp is on its 38th day and the strike in the Greek Lavrio camp is on its 21st day.
The Makhmur Camp strike was initiated by women on 18 December and continues in the Makhmur Martyr Families Association.
The Lavrio Camp strike was started by Kurdish political refugees on 4 January, and is led by a combination of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (TCŞ-Tevgera Ciwanên Şoreşger), the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe (Tevgera Jinên Kurdistan a Ewropa), and Navenda Çanda Kurdistan (Kurdish Cultural Centre).
The history of the Kurdish struggle against the oppressive policies of Turkey is full of hunger strikes and death fasts.
The first hunger strike against Öcalan’s isolation began in 2012 and continued for 68 days. There was another hunger strike in 2016 which continued for eight days.
In 2018, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair and Hakkari Deputy Leyla Güven started an indefinite non-alternating hunger strike in Diyarbakır’s E-type Closed Prison, where she is detained. This strike continued for 200 days. Afterwards, Öcalan’s lawyers could meet with their client on 2-22 May, 12-18 June, and 7 August 2019, after a separation of eight years. The hunger strike and death fasts ended on 26 May, upon Öcalan’s request.