The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) organised a public meeting yesterday in the Kurdish majority city of Van in South East Turkey regarding the ongoing hunger strikes that continue in many of Turkey’s prisons by Kurdish political prisoners. Different speakers called on the Turkish government to hear the hunger strikers demands and end the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.
On 27 November 2020 thousands of political prisoners in Turkey launched a rotating indefinite hunger strike against the isolation of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan who has been kept under solitary confinement since Feb 1999.
The demands of the hunger strike, that began on 27 November 2020 and has reached it’s 254th day are the ending of the isolation of the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan and an end to systematic violations of prisoners rights in Turkish prisons.
Solidarity hunger strikes continue in Maxmur Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan now on day 233 and in the Lavrio Refugee Camp in Greece now on day 216.
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) held the public meeting in a hall in the Kurdish city of Van in South East Turkey to talk about the ongoing hunger strike and the current situation in the prisons of Turkey.
HDP central executive board member and prominent lawyer Doğan Erbaş was the first to speak at the panel. He reminded the meeting that Abdullah Öcalan has been calling on the Turkish authorities to achieve a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish question since his captivity in Feb 1999.
Erbaş said that “On 7th of August 2019 Abdullah Öcalan passed a message to the Turkish government via his lawyers that he would be able to achieve a ceasefire in just one week.” he continued:
“Many presidents and prime ministers have come and gone. But he has always made the same call. Unfortunately all of his calls have remained unaswered.”
Attorney Erbas also noted that the isolation imposed on Abdullah Ocalan in Imrali prison island is against human rights laws and Turkey’s own constitution.
”There is no regulation that can prevent Mr. Ocalan from seeing his lawyers and family, it is illegal”
Attorney Erbas also believes that there is widespread silence among people about the ongoing hunger strikes in prisons. He criticices it. “I say to everyone, including myself that we should criticise ourselves about this”
After Dogan Erbas, another prominent lawyer from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD), Ekin Yeter then spoke.
She talked about the history of hunger strikes in Turkey and underlined that prisoners in Turkey’s prisons launched the strikes as there was no other way availiable to make their voices heard to the outside world.
“There is one demand they raise and this should be heard. Their one demand is lifting the isolation!” she said.