Rosa Gilbert: “As political prisoners continue to suffer in Turkish jails, silence amounts to complicity with the newly empowered fascist regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Be a voice against silence.”
On April 18th last, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish movement representing Kurds in Turkey and northern Syria, requested prisoners to come off hunger strike as the conditions within prisons have been brought to international attention and they are now able to continue their struggle through other mean:
The KCK Executive Council Presidency issued a written statement on the hunger strikes which had been ongoing for 63 days in prisons.
“Prisoners, like at other times, did not remain silent against the oppression and persecution of our people and took action. These prisoners who dedicated their lives to the freedom struggle have put up their revolutionary will by challenging death in the face of oppression. Our people, as always, have stood with their revolutionary children and supported this resistance.”
The Kurdistan Communities Union or KCK (Kurdish: Koma Civakên Kurdistan) is a Kurdish political organization committed to implementing Abdullah Öcalan’s ideology of Democratic Confederalism. The KCK also serves “as an umbrella group for all the Apoist political parties of Greater Kurdistan, including the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), PYD (Democratic Union Party), PJAK (Kurdistan Free Life Party), and PÇDK (Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party)”. The KCK is considered an illegal organisation under Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code and its membership, suspected or otherwise, have been persecuted by the Turkish state since its formation.
The KCK stated that the action had reached its goal and the resistance needed to be furthered using different methods.
“Should there be no favorable developments on the highlighted issues, it will be up to the will of resisting prisoners to go into action in a more planned and organised manner in the future. On this basis, we once again salute their action and call on them to end it, with the confidence that they have reached their goal.”
“With the resistance of the prisoners, and supported by the people and other democratic forces, the reasons for the revolutionary prisoners’ struggle including the isolation in İmrali, oppression in the prisons, political genocidal attacks against democratic politics and fascist attacks against the people have been brought on to the agenda to a necessary extent and have achieved their purpose.
…In this sense, there is no need to continue this resistance any more…And we request that our people end this indefinite non-rotational hunger strike in the belief that new topics which became main issues on the agenda be followed and that the struggle will continue using alternative ways and methods…”
The strike had passed its 63th day and the condition of some of the prisoners on strike since February 15th had become critical. There has been little reported across the media on the condition of the hunger strikers since then, with the exception of the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign’s statement on May 19th: “…a number of hunger strikers had gone blind and were approaching death.”
On Wednesday 19th April, ANF news reported:
“In a statement on behalf of the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) and PAJK (Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party, Partiya Azadiya Jin a Kurdistan) prisoners, Deniz Kaya announced that they have ended the massive hunger strike in Turkish jails, which has been ongoing in Şakran since February 15, in response to the call issued by the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council Co-Presidency yesterday.”
Deniz Kaya continued: “We salute all our people, democratic organisations and everyone that acted with sensitivity and supported our resistance. We state hereby that we will continue our resistance with greater actions in the event that the AKP-MHP dirty alliance continues its isolation of our Leader, the political genocidal operations against our people and the rights violations in prisons.
We are ending our indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike in all prisons, which is on day 64 in Şakran, in response to the call of the KCK Co-Presidency. We salute all our jailed comrades who took part in this action of resistance, and we reiterate our debt of gratitude to our people.”
In their statement, the KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency also said that:
“With this action, prisoners have strengthened the democratic struggle against AKP-MHP fascism, thus leaving no more need to continue this resistance. Trusting that the issues highlighted will be followed up and this struggle will be continued in other ways and with other methods, we ask them to end the indefinite-irreversible hunger strike. The demands of the resisting prisoners became the demands of our Freedom Movement, of the people and of public opinion. Our responsibility for putting an end to the pressures in İmrali and all other prisons will be fulfilled in a more sensitive way from now on.
The practices in İmrali as well as in the prisons and the pressures on our people and on democratic politics came into prominence further and now becomes public knowledge with this resistance. Our people, democratic public opinion as well as our own organisation will follow up the issues highlighted by the resisting prisoners, and make the necessary effort to this end. On the basis of this analysis, this action, that has now reached the threshold of death must be ended immediately.
Should there be no favorable developments on the highlighted issues, it will be up to the will of the resisting prisoners to go into action in a more planned and organized manner in the future. On this basis, we once again salute their action and call on them to end it, with the confidence that they have reached their goal.”
Wednesday, April 19th also marked the end of the strike in the ‘international media’:
Britain’s left-wing Morning Star newspaper reported that solidarity hunger strikes had started in Brighton, London and Cardiff on Tuesday April 11:
“Thirteen prisoners in Sakran prison initiated the hunger strike 64 days ago and in the meantime 206 prisoners joined them…On Monday 17th, hunger strikers released a statement on the anniversary of the Irish Easter Rising and honouring republican hunger striker Bobby Sands:
‘Even if all of us were to fall as martyrs through melting piece by piece we will not stop our action. What will stop this action is not our death but the loud voice of our leadership….We as the followers of Kemal and Hayri and the lovers of Bobby Sands call on all those with a conscience to give a voice to our cry. Just a voice.
Regardless of the price, the victory of our determination will give meaning and value to life.’”
On Thursday April 20th, ANF News sadly reported that despite the ending of the hunger strike in Ankara’s Sincan Prison, the prisoners’ need for medical intervention and healthcare after a hunger strike of over 60 days has been denied; while the administration in Sincan Prison are reported to have threatened the prisoners and said “We will not take you to hospital, you will pay the price for going on hunger strike.”
“HDP Van parliamentarian Bedia Özgökçe Ertan said they met with officials on the issue and their party is following the issue closely. She added: “We have met with Justice Ministry officials. Our efforts to resolve the problem continue. The publicized information is accurate. There is such a situation at the prison. Conditions in Sincan and other prisons are similar.”
Rosa Gilbert, co-secretary of the English Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign writing in the Morning Star says:
“As political prisoners continue to suffer in Turkish jails, silence amounts to complicity with the newly empowered fascist regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Be a voice against silence.”
Sources & References (thanks to)
Sources & Other Commentary:
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (England):
For more information follow @KurdsCampaign on Twitter or www.facebook.com/KurdistanSolidarityCampaign.