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Turkish police water cannon mourners attempting to visit grave site of former political prisoner

TURKISH police attacked mourners with water cannons today preventing them from attending the cemetery where Zulkuf Gezen was taken in the night following his reported suicide in Tekirdag prison yesterday.

The political prisoner was one of the thousands on hunger strike in jails across Turkey in protest against the continued isolation of Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Turkey’s Prosecutor’s Office stated that he committed suicide by hanging himself with a washing line in a bathroom at the prison late yesterday denying his action was “for a cause.”

However his uncle, Ahmet Gezen, said Mr Gezen had taken his life as a protest against the treatment of Mr Ocalan, describing it as “an action on behalf of all Kurdish people.”

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Ayse Acar Basaran accused authorities of “abducting” his body without the knowledge or consent of his family, taking him from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to Diyarbakir.

The family was informed that the funeral would take place during the night, with authorities allegedly telling them: “We will commit the body to the ground tonight. You can either attend it or not.”

HDP MPs who arrived in Diyarbakir to receive the body were told that their participation in the funeral would not be allowed.

Mr Gezen is the first of the Kurdish hunger strikers to die since the campaign was started by HDP MP Leyla Guven in November last year.

As many as five thousand people are believed to have joined the campaign both in Turkish prisons and in solidarity actions across the country.

Mr Gezen joined the hunger strike on March 1 despite being warned against it due to being diagnosed with Hepatitis B.

He was was buried at the Yenikoy Cemetery with only a small number of relatives present as the entrance was blocked by hundreds of police and armoured vehicles.

Clashes occurred after those gathered for a vigil were prevented from attending the grave of Mr Gezen with authorities continuing to barricade the entrance and firing water cannons at the mourners.

The Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) said the Turkish regime was doomed to defeat over its isolation of Mr Ocalan facing increased resistance “from all four parts of Kurdistan.”

An HDP statement said: “We call on government to act responsibly and fulfill the demand to lift the isolation. From now on the political responsibility of every negativity and loss of life would be on the government.”

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