15 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey have declared that they’ve started a ‘death fast’. This is more immediately life-threatening than a hunger strike. Because unlike those on hunger strike, the prisoners will refuse to take B vitamins and will survive only on water with sugar and salt. B vitamins prolong a hunger striker’s life, and may delay the damage to a person’s organs. They also slow the loss of body mass, and are crucial for brain function and cell metabolism.
The prisoners are demanding an end to Turkey’s isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Risking life for peace
15 other prisoners have been on a death fast since 30 April, bringing the total number of people on the death fast to 30. They are taking this drastic action after months of being on hunger strike. But Turkey has continued to ignore the plight of the thousands of hunger strikers around the world, instead ramping up threats to invade Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – a progressive pro-Kurdish party in Turkey which has been a prime target of state repression in recent years – gave a statement when the first 15 people declared a death fast. It said:
These 15 political prisoners, who have already been emaciated due to their months-long hunger strike, may not survive for long, if Turkish authorities do not take urgent steps to remove the unlawful isolation imposed on Mr Öcalan.
Turkish brutality continues
As the hunger strikes continue, Kurdish mothers have been demonstrating outside the prisons where their children are held. But Turkish police have responded brutally, physically assaulting and detaining them.
As their children get closer to death, the mothers are demanding that the government listens. They are asking Turkey to uphold its own law and lift the isolation of Öcalan.
Featured image via Firat News Agency