On 8 November 2018, Democratic Society Congress co-Chair, Leyla Güven launched a hunger strike that lasted for 200 days and was joined by thousands of Kurdish prisoners and by many supporters in Europe. Numerous prisoners lost their lives during the action to win the hunger strikers demands.Havva Gezen, a mother who lost her son, Zülküf Gezen, during the 2018-2019 action against isolation, talked to Mesopotamia Agency regarding the ongoing hunger strikes in Turkey.
The 2018-2019 hunger strike was against the “unlawful and inhumane isolation of Abdullah Öcalan”, as stated by Leyla Güven. As a result of the hunger strikes, Öcalan’s lawyers could meet with their clients after 8 years of bans. Upon Öcalan’s call, the hunger strike was ended as of 26 May 2019.
They ended their lives in protest against isolation
Ayten Beçet (24) in Gebze Women’s Closed Prison on 23 March, Zehra Sağlam (23) in Oltu Type-T Closed Prison on 24th March, Medya Çınar (24) in Mardin Type-E Closed Prison on 25 March, Yonca Akici in Şakran Women’s Closed Prison on 29 March, Siraç Yüksek in Osmaniye Type-T Prison No. 2 on 2 April, and Mahsum Pamay in Elazığ No.1 High-Security Prison on 5 April ended their lives in protest of the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.
Zülküf Gezen was jailed Tekirdağ No 2 Type-F Prison during the widespread hunger strike. He took his own life as a support action to the strikes and to protest against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.
These protests of the political prisoners, who ended their own lives one after another triggered public outrage, which in the end turned into a massive voice against the isolation policies. On 7 August 2019 lawyers could meet with Abdullah Öcalan in Imralı Prison.
‘We have experienced too much pain’
On 27 November 2020, political prisoners, who have been jailed in the cases of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) launched another hunger strike against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and the ongoing violations of rights in Turkish prisons.
Whilst the hunger strike continues to its 111th day, Havva Gezen, the mother of Zülküf Gezen said that if her son and friends did not take their own lives, the isolation would not have been lifted and that more prisoners will continue to protest and lose their lives.
Mentioning that the hunger strikes may turn into death fasts, Gezen, called upon everyone to support the strikers and be their voices outside.
“We have experienced too much pain and sorrow. I do not want any other mother to feel how I have felt during those days. We do not want to hear of any more death news coming from the prisons. Their demands are our demands and these demands should be met immediately,” she stated.