In Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey, organisations representing the families of prisoners have begun a solidarity vigil, protesting the solitary confinement of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in İmralı F Type High-Security Prison.
This vigil, starting on Monday, aligns with the eighth day of a rotational hunger strike by political prisoners in various prisons in Turkey, demanding an end to Öcalan’s confinement and advocating for his physical freedom.
Kerem Canpolat, co-chair of the Med Detainee and Convict Families Federation (MED TUHAD-FED), called for public support, echoing the hunger strikers’ demands. Canpolat emphasised the 33-month period without any news from Öcalan, interpreting it as a reflection of the broader isolation faced by those protesting.
Simultaneous demonstrations and solidarity expressions took place in Mersin and Adana. In Mersin, TUHAY-DER organised a press statement joined by representatives of the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) and various NGOs. Ergin Altuntaş, co-chair of TUHAY-DER Mersin branch, highlighted Öcalan’s continuous isolation and alleged mistreatment for 24 years, stressing the absence of communication for the past 33 months. He linked Öcalan’s solitary confinement to the unresolved Kurdish issue, advocating for Öcalan’s release as a step towards a political solution.
In Adana, the TUHAY-DER branch commenced their vigil amid tensions with the police, who initially refused permission for a public statement in İnönü Park. Nuray Kaya, head of the branch, reiterated the calls for Öcalan’s release and a resolution to the Kurdish issue.
Concurrently, the hunger strike started on 27 November, marking the anniversary of the PKK’s founding, enters 8th day and is planned to continue until 15 February 2024. This strike symbolises the protest against Öcalan’s solitary confinement and the broader Kurdish issue, coinciding with the anniversary of Öcalan’s capture in 1999.
Ekin Yeter, co-chair of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), underscored the severity of Öcalan’s solitary confinement, considering the extensive economic, social, democratic, and legal implications of the situation. Yeter advocated for intensified efforts to combat this confinement, viewing it as pivotal to addressing Turkey’s current challenges.