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KURDISH parliamentarian Leyla Guven’s sister praised her as “a courageous woman” today, as the MP entered the 197th day of her hunger strike in protest at the treatment of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Kadin Ot sent a message to the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warning that Ms Guven “has never submitted to anyone” and is determined to continue the hunger strike “until the end.”
She was speaking to the Mesopotamia News Agency from the village in which Ms Guven, who started her hunger strike from prison on November 8, was born.
“She is so valuable to us. We love her so much. We grew up together. We used to go to the highlands together. We milked the sheep,” Ms Ot explained, giving an insight into their early life together.
Ms Guven was loved by everyone in the village, her sister said, and became politically active in around 1992 in the city of Konya.
“From that day on she is with the party … Leyla is a courageous woman. She pulls no punches. Leyla says what she will do and does it. She never submitted to anyone.”
Ms Guven has spearheaded the hunger strike campaign which has grown to include 7,000 people, mostly Kurdish political prisoners held in Turkish prisons.
They have been supported on the outside by the “Peace Mothers,” who today flooded the streets of cities in the largely Kurdish south-east, including Diyarbakir.
Despite being brutally attacked by police, who swooped to arrest at least 38 protesting mothers at a march and vigil earlier this month, the resistance has continued.
A group gathered for a sit-in protest outside Gebze Women’s prison, saying: “We will come every day and sit here until our children receive a message from Imrali [where Mr Ocalan is in prison] and end the hunger strikes.”
Ms Ot said she wants the deaths to stop. At least six people have committed suicide in protest at Mr Ocalan’s continued isolation.
Those on hunger strike are calling for the PKK leader to be treated in accordance with Turkish and international law.
“For me they are all Leyla,” Ms Ot said, “Can’t they see that? Young people are on hunger strike. Mothers are hurting. Everybody should unite. Lend us your hand.”
Lawyers who visited Mr Ocalan are expected to make a statement today, with hope that the hunger strikes will be brought to an end and peace negotiations will start again.
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