Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

February 16, 2019

Email

Diyarbakir: Turkish anti-riot police surround and block members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party during a demonstration on Friday in solidarity with a lawmaker on hunger strike.—AFP
Diyarbakir: Turkish anti-riot police surround and block members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party during a demonstration on Friday in solidarity with a lawmaker on hunger strike.—AFP

DIYARBAKIR: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.

The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.

Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on November 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.

She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.

Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, a correspondent said.

“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.

“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organised struggle,” Tasdemir said.

More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.

Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek embassy in Nairobi on Feb 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.

Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years, but the jailed leader’s lawyers said it was not enough.

“We cannot see a family visit that came in two years as something that ends isolation. That was a meeting which came after the reaction of democracy advocates and hunger strikes,” Emran Emekci, one of Ocalan’s lawyers, told an Istanbul press conference.

“Meeting with family members is a fundamental right. There should be no need for hunger strikes... but unfortunately we need that resistance,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019