Political prisoners in Turkey launched a hunger strike on 27 November to demand that the prison isolation conditions imposed on Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan should be lifted and violations of human rights of prisoners in prisons should end. Ayne Atabay, the mother of one of the prisoners on hunger strike, spoke to Jinnews.The hunger strike launched by the Kurdish political prisoners continues into its 48th day. Leyla Atabay is one of the prisoners, who launched her hunger strike in Elbistan E-Type Prison in Turkey’s city of Maraş. Leyla’s mother Ayne Atabay said: “If the prison isolation conditions on Abdullah Öcalan are lifted, the problems in this country would end and there would be peace”. Atabay called for the isolation conditions of Abdullah Öcalan to be lifted and dialogue with Öcalan by the government to be resumed.
Restrictions are in place for political prisoners
Stating that her daughter Leyla Atabay has been in prison for 25 years, Ayne Atabay stated that she has not been able to see her daughter for a year due to the restrictions in place in prisons since the coronavirus pandemic. She said that her only form of permitted communication with her daughter is a ten minute phone call which prisoners are allowed to make once a week.
“I do not properly know how my daughter is. However, we give each other strength. My daughter and I give support each other. From here, I appeal to Emine Erdoğan: she is a mother, too. A mother can understand what I feel. As a mother, she can give support to our struggle to have our children released. Some of us raised our children in good conditions. As a mother, she can lend support to our struggle for our children to be released. Some other mothers had to raise their children in poverty. I raised my children under difficult circumstances”, Ayne Atabay said.
‘Let the doors of prisons be opened for political prisoners now’
Reacting to the change in the legal act in 2020 that allowed over 90,000 prisoners – who were detained over criminal charges – to be released from prisons in Turkey, Atabay noted that no political prisoners, who were imprisoned due to their struggle for rights and freedoms, were allowed to benefit from this new amnesty act. “In the past, a person who governed society would request a solution to solve problems. Why doesn’t the president of this country, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, come up with a solution to solve these problems? Why does he provide amnesty to those who abuse their children or murder women, but not to our children? What did our children do? They did not do any harm. Let the doors of prisons be opened for political prisoners now”, she stated in an appeal to Turkey’s President.
‘There is no justice for the Kurds in this country’
“There is no justice for the Kurds in this country”, said Ayne. She added that justice functions whenever the government wants it to function: “We are citizens of this country. If Kurds and Turks live together, this country will become a more beautiful and richer country: also, a country where peace reigns, giving a chance to all languages and colours of this geography to survive. We want this. He (the President) says there are no Kurds, but Kurds have been living in these lands for thousands of years. Kurds’ existence and language cannot be denied. There has been a struggle for 40 years and we have been struggling for peace for 40 years”, she said.
‘The isolation should be lifted’
Calling out to the Turkish authorities to accept the demands of the prisoners on hunger strike, Ayne Atabay said: “If these prisoners did not have a serious problem, why would they go on a hunger strike? Of course, they have a problem. Abdullah Öcalan has been in prison for 22 years – everything depends on him. The isolation policy and practices should come to an end. Accept the demands of the prisoners. Enough! The isolation should be lifted and dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan should be resumed so that we can have the peace again. Only through dialogue with Abdullah Öcalan can problems be solved in this country”.