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Women across the world urged to support resistance in Turkish prisons

WOMEN worldwide were urged by the Kongreya Star organisation today to support the resistance inside Turkish jails, as a rolling hunger-strike campaign entered its 27th day

Kongreya Star, a confederation of women’s organisations based in the Kurdish enclave known as Rojava in northern Syria, said that more must be done to support political prisoners refusing food.

Spokeswoman Berivan Ismael argued that the involvement of women was particularly important in pressing the hunger strikers’ demands for the release of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

She declared that freedom for Mr Ocalan, who has been held since 1999, would mean “emancipation for all women” and the liberation of the Kurdish people.

The latest hunger-strike campaign, announced on November 27, the anniversary of the foundation of the PKK in 1978, involves alternating groups refusing food for five days at a time.

As well as an end to Mr Ocalan being held in isolation, prisoners are also demanding that Turkey ceases human-rights violations and establishes humane conditions inside its prisons.

A recent scandal was sparked by the revelation that hundreds of women had been subjected to humiliating strip-searches on a regular basis.

This has been denied by the government, leading to a call to break the silence over the degrading treatment.

Hunger strikes are a common form of resistance by political prisoners in Turkey.

In December 2000, at least 31 died as around 10,000 security personnel stormed jails to end a hunger strike led by left-wing groups in protest at plans to transfer inmates to controversial F-Type prisons.

The most recent action saw as many as 7,000 join hunger strikes led by former HDP MP Leyla Guven. They ended in May 2019 after Mr Ocalan was granted access to his lawyers for the first time in nearly nine years.

Ms Guven was jailed for 22 years and three months on Monday, provoking outrage from the international community. Turkish authorities transferred her from Diyarbakir to Elazig jail for fear that she could play a leading role among prisoners.

Letters of solidarity can be sent to Leyla Guven, E Tipi Cezaevi, Atasehir Mahalessi, ELAZIG, Turkey.

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