The rotational hunger strike by Kurdish political prisoners across Turkey, demanding freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a resolution to the Kurdish issue, has entered its 11th day. Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been held in solitary confinement in İmralı F-Type High Security Prison with no contact with outside world for over 33 months.
Persisting in their demands
Prisoners participating in the hunger strike from Konya Ereğli High Security Closed Prison committed to continue the action until their demands are met. The campaign, started on 27 November, is planned to continue until 15 February 2024.
Allegations of threats and pressure
The hunger strikers have been subjected to harassment by prison guards, according to details shared with family members who visited prisoners Hasan Kılıç and İsmail Çoban behind bars. They reported receiving warnings of being subjected to isolation practices in the same vain as Öcalan, and threats implying death.
Message of resolve from the prisoners
Ibrahim Halil Ercan, a prisoner scheduled to join the second group of hunger strikers, conveyed a determination to continue the action until Öcalan had been freed from isolation. Strikers called for external support, emphasising the importance of a unified effort.
Justice Vigil participants: ‘We will succeed’
Participants of the Justice Vigil in Diyarbakir (Amed), which began on 4 December, also stressed the importance of societal support for the cause, whilst expressing a confidence in its success. The vigil is part of a broader movement seeking to end the absolute isolation imposed on Öcalan.
Leyla Güven calls for urgent action
Leyla Güven, a prominent Kurdish politician and co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), pointed to the urgent need for immediate action to address the dire conditions in Turkish prisons. “Before coffins start emerging from prisons, everyone must do what they can,” she said.
Political figures in Erzurum: ‘Imralı’s door opens through struggle’
Political figures in Erzurum (Erzirom), including Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) Co-Chair Türkan Sümbül and other activists, emphasised that lifting the isolation policy imposed on Öcalan was the first step towards a resolution of the Kurdish issue and regional peace. They again highlighted the need for societal engagement to secure an end to Öcalan’s solitary confinement.
Continued international campaign and expanding solidarity actions
Prisoners are joining the strike from a growing number of institutions across the country, with 106 prisons now seeing protest action. The movement is part of an international campaign demanding freedom for Öcalan and a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue.
Solidarity actions, including Justice Vigils, have been initiated in various cities such as Diyarbakir, Mersin, Van (Wan) and Adana, demonstrating widespread support for the prisoners’ cause. The expanding scale of the strike and the accompanying public demonstrations reflect the growing urgency and intensity of the demands for Öcalan’s release and a meaningful dialogue to address the Kurdish issue.