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Sinn Fein MEP demands international community act to save hunger-striking Kurdish MP Leyla Guven

Martina Anderson expressed solidarity from the people of Ireland

SINN FEIN MEP Martina Anderson expressed solidarity from the people of Ireland as she demanded action from the international community to save Kurdish hunger-striking Kurdish MP Leyla Guven.

In the south-east of Turkey yesterday Ms Anderson visited the Diyarbakir home of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentarian. Ms Guven was on the 103th day of her hunger strike in protest at the continued isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

 

 

Ms Guven was rushed to hospital last week after she collapsed during a press conference. Her health is rapidly deteriorating, but she has vowed to turn her hunger strike into a “death fast” unless her demands are met.

The Hakkari MP’s actions have inspired a global movement of solidarity, with more than 300 political prisoners joining the hunger strikes in Turkish jails.

Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) warned yesterday that the health of some strikers is reaching “the critical line.”

At a press conference IHD central prisons commission spokeswoman Zeynep Ceren Boztoprak explained that 321 inmates in 60 prisons across Turkey are on “an indefinite and non-rotating hunger strike.”

She reminded those gathered of a similar campaign in prisons which started in October 2000. It was the longest and most deadly hunger strike in modern history, claiming more than 100 lives.

“We are in a period when political parties in parliament and outside parliament should raise their voices,” she said.

Ms Boztoprak warned that the hunger strikers face death and are demanding that Mr Ocalan — who was jailed in 1999 and has not seen a lawyer since July 2011 — is treated in accordance with Turkish law.

“We call the relevant public authorities to act upon the law before any loss of life or permanent health problems happen,” she said.

Jailed former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas wrote to the Council of Europe from his prison cell yesterday warning the action of friends has “reached the borders of death.”

He said that ending the isolation of Mr Ocalan was a crucial step in re-establishing the rule of law and creating the conditions for “a political climate of dialogue and peace.

“This rightful, legal and legitimate demand is a realistic one that can make concrete and direct contributions to the security, peace and stability of Turkey, Syria and Europe,” he wrote.

Ms Anderson said: “I expressed my solidarity and the continuing solidarity of Sinn Fein and the people of Ireland to Leyla Guven when we met.

“The international community needs to act to save the life of Leyla Guven and all other Kurdish hunger strikers and demand an end to the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan.”

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