Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Leyla Güven shared her comments from prison regarding the ongoing hunger strikes that have spread to more than 150 prisons in Turkey.
The massive hunger strike launched by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Free Life Party (PAJK) prisoners, who continue their indefinite hunger strike on a rotational basis, has reached its 81st day.
The hunger striking prisoners demand that the Turkish authorities lift the prison isolation conditions of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in Imralı High Security Prison for 22 years.
Leyla Güven went on hunger strike on 8 November 2019 demanding an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan. After Abdullah Öcalan said the “hunger strike and death fast have achieved their purpose, I am waiting for the end of the protests”, Güven ended her hunger strike on 26 May 2019 after 200 days of consuming only sugary, salty liquids and a complex of B vitamins.
Prominent Kurdish politican Leyla Güven sent a message from the prison where she has been incarcerated since December 2020. “We are hopeful, we are determined, we are right and we will definitely win”, Güven said.
After a Diyarbakır (Amed) court sentenced Güven to 22 years and three months in prison, she was detained at her home in Diyarbakır and sent to prison on 22 December 2020.
She wrote a letter from the Elazığ Women’s Closed Prison and shared her thoughts with the Mesopotamia Agency regarding the ongoing hunger strike in Turkey’s prisons.
”Fulfilling the hunger striking prisoner’s demands and lifting the isolation will not only be a relief for the society, but also a contribution to the democratisation of the country”, said Güven.
Güven noted that the hunger strikes in 2018 were ended at the request of Öcalan. Güven stated that despite the fact that both the Minister of Justice and many officials have said “the ban has been lifted, lawyers and his family can meet” in front of the country’s population, they continue to impose isolation.
Selected parts of Leyla Güven’s letter translated by MedyaNews:
“When our party, the HDP, overcame all obstacles and entered the parliament with 80 deputies in the 7 June election, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) could not hold the power alone and almost turned crazy. Our party buildings were raided and our executives were arrested for various reasons”.
“The occupation operation in Afrin, appointments to municipalities and arresting deputies were continuing to increase. Despite all these pressure policies, we insisted on democratic politics and resisted together with our people. Despite all the struggle, we were saying that the solution was the only possible way and method. We used to say that the solution to the Kurdish problem is possible not through security policies, but through democratic and peaceful methods. Mr Öcalan had a serious impact on both the organisation and the Kurdish people in order to ensure peace. The ‘solution process’ experienced in the recent past is a concrete indicator. However, as it is known, the AKP ended the process unilaterally, declaring that it did not recognise the Dolmabahçe Agreement. They once again practised isolation, which has been imposed for 22 years”.
“We have always said that this is a special policy related to the international powers that took part in the global plot. If a peace solution for the Kurdish problem was intended, it would have happened already. We are again at 15 February. Öcalan repeatedly said, ‘We do not need the solution of others, we have a thousand years of brotherhood, we can solve our problems with our own dynamics and will’. Despite all this, why does this isolation continue? Why are the problems getting deeper? If we do not solve the Kurdish problem, the world will want to keep their dominant mentality from their orientalist point of view. This has been repeated many times throughout history”.
“Unless our people are free, prisons will continue to be our second address. In the process many people are subjected to all kinds of unlawful attacks. It is not unusual for us, as their representatives, to be arrested and punished. I call on all democratic groups, to be sensitive about the ongoing hunger strikes. The demands of the activists are very clear. These demands will not only be for the Kurdish people, but will contribute to the democratisation of the country.
“In 2018 our friends, who had serious health problems due to the 200-day hunger strike action, have started again before they could fully recover. Because of the pandemic, prisons are the most risky areas. Democratic parties and human rights organisations should take an active role in fulfilling the demands of prisoners as soon as possible.
“All these lands are full of pain. We say ‘Edî bese’. It is the expectation of both the families of prisoners and the public that the authorities accept the demands of the prisoners as soon as possible and end the action without any loss of life”.