UPDATE: This article was updated at 3.12pm on 3 April to include calls from within the Kurdish freedom movement for suicides to stop.
The hunger strikers are demanding thatbe allowed to see his family and lawyers.
Lawyer Margaret Owen told The Canary she has joined the strike because:
there will be no peace between Turkey and the Kurds untilis released, you cannot negotiate a peace while the leader of the other side is in prison… He’s been asking for peace, it was Turkey who broke off all those peace negotiations in 2015.
Owen said that everyone should reada model for the sort of society that we all deserve. Showing a way to have a peaceful and just society with gender equality at the centre.”
According to Owen, “allowed to see his brother for fifteen minutes in January.has not seen his lawyer since 2011, or his family since 2016″, apart from being
Brutally pushed back by the police with their riot shields
Owen joined a delegation to visit Kurdish hunger striker Leyla Güven earlier this year. She told The Canary:
I was privileged to be invited by the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] to go to Amed to try to see Leyla when she was still in prison, but we weren’t allowed to see her. We were rather brutally pushed back by the police with their riot shields and water cannons.
Güven has now refused food for 147 days (as of 3 April 2019). Thousands more people around the world are on hunger strike. Seven people have taken their own lives this year in protest at the isolation of . Six of them were Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish prisons. Siraç Yüksek was the latest person to take this action. His death was reported on 2 April. Güven and others have called for these suicide actions to stop, and for the movement to focus on the struggle of the hunger strikers.
I have to do this because I don’t know what else to do. Even Sabiha, Leyla Güven‘s daughter asked me not to do it and to pursue diplomatic channels.
But Owen says that she had tried everything to pursue diplomatic channels, to no avail.
Leyla Güven‘s condition worsens, ‘action is needed now’
The HDP invited people from around the world to come as independent observers of Turkey’s municipal elections on 31 March. Some of the delegates from the UK visited Leyla Güven and her family the following day. They told The Canary:
We visited Leyla on her 145th day of hunger strike. Her health has deteriorated a lot. The day we visited, she could no longer take fluids or her vitamin B1. Her daughter asks all international people to put more pressure on Turkey, to contact MPs and to pressure the CPT [the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment] to take action immediately to end the isolation of. Leyla’s spirit is strong but her health is seriously critical and time has run out. Action is needed now.
A ‘green light for dictators’
Owen told The Canary:
I was born in 1932 and I remember how we appeased Hitler. We didn’t have social media then but now it’s all out there. It is very dangerous what we’re doing now. [Turkish President] Erdoğan has very publicly shouted out that he is not bound by international law and that he won’t implement a ceasefire after Afrin [the Turkish attack on Afrin in Rojava, Northern Syria]. It gives a green light to dictators.
It’s not just what is happening to, Turkey is conducting a genocide against the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. It is incumbent on us to speak out against injustice. I have asked Secretaries of State at meetings and written to endless people but nothing happens.
I want to protest at the way Britain is an accessory to the crimes of Erdoğan by selling weapons to Turkey. To protest against my government who will go down in history as an accessory to a genocide.
Featured image via Margaret Owen (used with permission)
- Learn about the hunger strikes and the imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan.
- Contact your MP and MEP to draw attention to the hunger strikers and the isolation of Öcalan. Ask them to persuade the British government to pressure the CPT to visit Öcalan. Send them this article by Kurdish hunger striker Ilhan Sis.
- Get involved with your local Kurdistan Solidarity group.
- Join the upcoming demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers in London and Cardiff.
Do your bit for independent journalism
Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.
We need you to help out, if you can.
When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.
You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.
In return you get:
- Advert free reading experience
- Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
- 20% discount from our shop