A 25-year old Kurdish man, Mehmet Akar, set himself on fire on Monday night in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed) to protest the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Mezopotamya news agency reported.
Akar lost his life in hospital, leaving behind a letter explaining his protest. The young man was following in the footsteps of Veysi Taş, also known as “Bubo”, who self-immolated just a few days previously on 12 January, to protest against the Turkish government for keeping Öcalan in isolation.
“I would like to welcome the action of Comrade Bubo. There is no news of Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan]. Neither his family nor his lawyers are allowed to see him. The applications [for visiting Öcalan] are rejected without justification. We are concerned about the health condition of Leader Apo,” Akar said, referring to the PKK leader.
This is not the first time Akar’s name has been mentioned in headlines. In 2019, the young man’s family filed a missing person report for the young man, claiming he was kidnapped by the PKK. The family the joined others who organised protests in front of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır headquarters demanding their children’s return.
However, Akar told Mezopotamya news agency in 2019 that he left home because his family forced him to marry a relative and criticised his family’s actions.
Following his interview with Mezopotamya, Akar was taken into custody by the police and released eight days later on probation. A few months later the young man was married in a ceremony which hosted senior administrators of Diyarbakır and members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).