As the hunger strikes in Turkey’s prisons continue on to its 139th day, Peace Mothers raise the demands of the hunger striking prisoners in an interview with Jin News.
Since his arrest on 15 February 1999 the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in Imralı High Security Prison which was altered and built specifically to house him on Turkey’s Imralı Island.
The indefinite, rotating hunger strike launched by political prisoners in Turkey – to protest against the prison isolation conditions of Abdullah Öcalan as well as the violations of prisoners’ rights more generally – has reached its 139th day.
Peace mothers Kadriye Özgan and Hatice Ay shared their views on the ongoing prison action and the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.
‘Attacks on Rojava is a part of the isolation’
“To isolate the leader of a community is something unacceptable. The Turkish state has to end the isolation, which is nothing but cruelty. This is not just about the isolation of our leader. The isolation of our leader is the isolation of our people,” said Kadriye Özgan.
Emphasising the link between the oppression against the Kurds and the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, Özgan said,”The isolation is imposed on our people, on our language, on our identity and on all prisoners. The things which are free for every other citizen is not free for the Kurdish citizens of this country, why? Why do they impose such isolation on us, on our leader?”
‘Our ears and eyes are focused on Imralı’
It was not easy to reach these days, Özgan said, “They killed us, they massacred us. Our leader has given such a great effort for us. Thanks to him, thanks to his struggle and thanks to our struggle we have reached these days. It was not easy for us, we as the Kurdish people have always waged a struggle for existence and we will continue this struggle at the cost of our lives.”
Özgan echoed the demands of the hunger strikers as her final appeal. “Let his lawyers go to visit him. Our ears and eyes are focused on Imralı. Any word he says is a hope for us. We are just expecting news from him, we are expecting his lawyers to bring us good news from him. We are concerned when we cannot hear from him. “Is our leader sick? How is he doing?’ is what is in all of our minds.” the Peace Mother said.
‘Keeping Apo in isolation is an insult’
‘It is not only with the lawyers and his family, but a meeting in Imralı prison with the Peace Mothers is necessary,” Hatice Ay said. “No religion, no faith can accept such an isolation, such a cruelty. They have no feeling of justice, no faith, no mercy. Keeping Apo in isolation is an insult against all of us.”
Calling on all the mothers around the world, Ay appealed for a joint struggle for peace. “Until our leadership is free, our struggle will continue. Kurds will continue to struggle. Our leader does not want the war to continue and the people to die. He wants equal rights for Turks, Kurds, Alevites, Yazidis, Armenians and all peoples living in this country. I have not learnt Turkish. Are they going to teach me by force? No one can make us speak Turkish by force. Ban our language as you like, but you cannot prevent us from speaking in Kurdish.”
‘Our demand is justice and equality’
Peace Mother Ay pointed out that Peace Mothers have been struggling for all those who lost their lives for the freedom struggle and for all those who are imprisoned because of their struggle.
“We have given so many martyrs. Do they believe they can intimidate Kurds? The Turkish state tries to destroy our leadership, that is why they impose such isolation on our leader,” Ay said.
“Our demands are so simple, we want equal rights. Our demand is justice and equality. These are all dependent to the freedom of our leader. That is why we want this isolation to be ended. There is no solution for the Kurdish question without Kurds. If the state wants to fix the problems, they have to listen to Kurds.”