Imprisoned Kurdish MP Leyla Güven on Hunger Strike

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IF YOU THINK BREXIT is dramatic you should be watching what is happening to the Kurds at the hands of the Turkish regime at the moment. Turkey’s ‘political genocide’ of the Kurds continues apace, with this week being a particularly busy week as Erdogan gets ready for the Turkish local elections at the end of March.

He has already said that if the HDP win municipal elections he will ignore the vote and instal his own cronies but that has not stopped him continuing to jail HDP activists and Kurdish elected MPs. This week it was Osman Baydemir and Leyla Birlik who were handed down jail terms for attending rallies opposing the Turkish state’s military attacks on the Sur district of Diyarbakir. Over 2,000 HDP activists have been detained by the Turkish regime so far this year, with 71 elected Mayors and co Mayors arrested since the Turkish state took over Kurdish municipalities by force. 12 HDP MP’s have been handed down jail sentences with ex co chair of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas appearing again this week at his ‘show trial’ where he described being held as a 'political hostage' by the Turkish state and now Turkey are threatening to invade the recently liberated area of Northern Syria known as Rojava. Rojava has been an inspirational beacon of inclusive democracy, hope, and peace since the Kurdish led forces pushed ISIS back from Kobane and liberated the whole of Northern Syria from the Jihadist terrorists. But autonomy or rights for Kurds anywhere is an anathema for the racist Turkish state.

Turkey has completely turned its back on any democratic road for the Kurds and are pursuing a purely military solution to the Kurdish question, attempting to annihilate the Kurdish movement.

Amongst this increasing repression and military threats there is a silent powerful voice coming out of the darkest dungeons of Turkey’s notorious torture centre, Diyarbakir prison. Imprisoned Kurdish woman MP for Hakkari, Leyla Güven is now on her 37th day of hunger strike calling for a change of policy towards the Kurds. Her central demand is that the lawyers for the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öçalan, imprisoned since Feb 1999 on a Robben Island type prison island called Imrali, be allowed access to their client who has been held in isolation for the last 20 years so peace negotiations can be started.

Leyla Güven’s sole resistance from Diyarbakir prison has inspired many Kurdish people around the world to take action in solidarity with her call for peace with hunger strikes starting in many countries all around the world.

Women in Kurdish cities occupied by the Turkish regime have taken part in solidarity hunger strikes but their actions have been brutally broken up by Turkish police. In Diyarbakir, Van and Batman police broke into the hunger strikes and violently detained over 100 women taking part in hunger strikes in solidarity with Leyla Güven.

As Turkey slips further in total dictatorship it is important for voices such as Leyla Güven’s to be heard and amplified by friends outside Turkey and for solidarity to take place. 

Friends of Leyla Güven believe that Leyla would not have started her hunger strike if she was not going to take it to the very end and many believe that she is now entering a ‘death fast’ stage of the protest. Prison authorities have denied her the vital B1 vitamins that are critical for a hunger strike at this stage and there are real fears for her life.

Leyla Güven stated that one of the reasons for war and chaos “is the Kurdish question remains unsolved and ignored. I think that Mr Oçalan is making a great effort for the democratic and peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. Mr Öçalan’s solution proposals and ideas provide an important perspective not only for the Kurdish question, but also for the Middle East… I am willing to do something against this isolation regime [against Öcalan] that is crime against humanity. I know this is the demands of millions… I kiss the hands of all the mothers, Peace Mothers, Saturday Mothers. I am aware that the days of lasting peace that they struggled for will prevail in these lands. I am a comrade of those who love to die for the sake of life. With these feelings, I greet you all again with respect and wish you success in your work.”

The Kurdish community in London have launched a hunger strike in solidarity with Leyla Güven echoing Leyla’s central demand to stop the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan and have been on hunger strike now for 8 days.

The Kurdish hunger strike is taking place outside Manor House Tube Station at Finsbury Park and there will be a solidarity rally at 6pm on Friday 14th Dec. People are invited to show their solidarity by attending the rally. There will be live music and Kurdish dancing.

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