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Kurdish prisoners begin new ‘death fast’ protest over PKK leader's isolation

A NEW group of hunger strikers held in Turkish prisons have started a “death fast” today in protest at the continued isolation of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The 15 prisoners from the PKK and the Free Women’s Party of Kurdistan (PAJK) announced the move as “the next stage of the resistance” saying they were prepared to die unless their demands were met.

In a statement, the group warned that the Turkish state was violating international law and engaging in a form of torture in its treatment of Mr Ocalan, claiming it amounted to a policy of “absolute annihilation and genocide.”

They insisted that allowing Mr Ocalan to meet his lawyers, whom he has not seen since 2011, and an end to him being held in solitary confinement was necessary to resolve the current situation and bring about a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

“The only way for Turkey to emerge from the chaos and crisis at this point is through the solution of the Kurdish issue and the democratisation of Turkey.”

As many as 7,000 are believed to have joined the hunger-strike campaign, initiated by People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Guven on November 8 last year.

The parliamentarian was arrested in January 2018 for speaking out against Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of the largely Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria.

The Turkish state has responded harshly to those supporting the hunger strikes. 

On Sunday authorities attacked a group of elderly Kurdish mothers who have held a sit-in protest outside Gebze M Type Closed Prison in Kocaeli Province for 20 days. The women were threatened with arrest and told to leave the area.

“No matter what you do, we will not give up,” the families said, promising to return today.

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