Intellectuals hold the government responsible for deaths nearing in hunger strikes

A group of Turkey’s distinguished intellectuals gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim square to draw attention to the strikes yesterday.The government must immediately change its attitude to the widespread hunger strikes and death fasts in the country’s prisons before it is too late, they said on the the 50th day of the action.

Novelist Yaşar Kemal, who witnessed the previous experiences, remarked on the death fasts in 1996, saying: “They tortured those staging hunger strikes then. Some of them died, and the state was responsible for these deaths, as it always is.”

“Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, you must change your language and listen to the demands; otherwise, you will be responsible for the deaths,” author and musician Zülfü Livaneli said at a press conference at Istanbul’s Taksim Hill Hotel.

If the government finds no formula to end the hundreds of ongoing prisoner hunger strikes by Nov. 5, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies may join the strike in Parliament Nov. 6.

The final decision will be made at a joint meeting of BDP deputies and Party Assembly (PM) members on Nov. 5.

“Yes, it is true. We will gather on Nov. 5, make an assessment of the issue and will accordingly make a decision,” BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan said Nov. 1.

BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş had already announced on Oct. 31 that, “as a party, we have been prepared for radical action.”

Buldan also said that as of Nov. 1, 683 prisoners in 66 prisons have been on indefinite hunger strikes, adding that the hunger strikes, which began on Sept. 12, entered their 51st day on Nov. 1 – a critical turning point. The first 63 inmates began their strike on Sept. 12 and dozens have gradually joined since then.

Signature campaign: Academics around the world support hunger strikers

Academics around the world among them Noam Chomsky, Professor Michael Taussig of Columbia University and Feminist theorist Professor Judith Butler of University of California support hunger strikers’ demands.

Academics around the world among them Noam Chomsky, Professor Michael Taussig of Columbia University and Feminist theorist Professor Judith Butler of University of California support hunger strikers’ demands. Watching death is ill-suited to humanity: writer Yasar Kemal’s words inspired academics petition in support of hunger strikers. Some other social scientists with research interests are Büsra Ersanli and Christine Allison.

An international group of social scientists with research interests in the Kurdish issue launched a petition campaign calling on the Turkish government to address the demands of the Kurdish political prisoners whose hunger strike has entered a critical phase. Kurdish prisoners are on hunger strike since 12 September for the right to defense in their mother tongue and the ending of solitary confinement of Abdullah Öcalan, Kurds imprisoned leader. Medical experts confirm that the 40th day is a threshold in hunger strikes where physical and mental dysfunctions commence, as well as cases of death begin to occur.

The petitioners declare their “full support to the Kurdish political prisoners’ demands, which, they believe, are among fundamental human rights”. The petition emphasizes that the “international community’s opinion on Turkey will be strongly shaped by the way the present hunger strikes are handled and reminds the addressees, including the President, Prime Minister and Justice Minister of Turkey, that they will be personally responsible should this protest end in a human tragedy”.

Recalling the devastating cost of the prison operations of the year 2000, the petitioners warn the Turkish government that any attempt at forceful intervention would cause irreparable harm and destroy the already dim democratic ground for a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue. The petition has received great interest and support from academic circles around the world, reaching over 3,000 signatures.

Some internationally renowned social scientists sent support messages to the campaign.

Professor Michael Taussig of Columbia University, an international authority in anthropology, signed the petition with the following note: ‘To the Turkish State: please attend immediately to the welfare of these courageous prisoners’.

Feminist theorist Professor Judith Butler of University of California, Berkeley, wrote: “Turkish government must enter into serious dialogue with these prisoners, who now risk their lives to expose the injustice under which they live.”

Noam Chomsky stated: “Elementary humanity requires that the just and desperate plea of these prisoners for dialogue should be answered quickly and appropriately, without delay.”

The campaign initiators state that they were inspired by Turkey’s great novelist Yasar Kemal’s recent statement on hunger strikes: ‘Watching death is ill-suited to humanity’.

The petition can be reached online at the link below:

http://www.change.org/petitions/hunger-strikers-in-turkish-prisons-engage-in-constructive-dialogue-with-prisoners#
Call to Mass Demonstration in Brussels on November 3

On the purpose of supporting hunger strike which was initiated by the members of PKK and PAJK and has been continued by more than 700 Kurdish Political prisoners in the Turkish prisons, a sit in action was started in front of the European Parliament.

Including the Chair of People’s Congress (KONGRA GEL), lawyer Mahmut Şakar, artist Cevat Mervani, the German Left Party deputy Cansu Özdemir, Ali Dağdeviren, author Mustafa Peköz, Journalist from Nuçe TV Erdal Er and Journalist Ferda Çetin, many Kurdish politicians, journalists and luminaries started a sit in action in front of the Eurpean Parliament in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.

During the sit-in, the police attacked to Kurdish demonstrators and got under surveillance two very well known Kurdish journalists Erdal Er and Ferda Cetin. They were released in the evening.

On the other hand, European Kurdish Coordination for A Democratic Society (CDK) calls on all democratic forces to hold a mass demonstration in Brussels on Saturday 3 November 2012.

Protesting against the disinterest of European institutions as regards Kurdish hunger strikers’ action, the CDK declares that the  European Parliament and the Council of Europe too will be responsible for any death during the hunger strikes.

Urgent appeal to the European Union read by the Kurdish demonstrators:
Stop the deaths in Turkey’s prisons immediately, accept the prisoners’ demands!

680 political prisoners in 58 Turkey prisons have started an irreversible and indefinite hunger strike since 12 September 2012. On the other hand, the numbers of new participants to the strike have increased with each passing day.  At the current moment many prisoners are approached the critical point of death.

In pursuit of their demands of providing health, security and freedom conditions for Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish Leader who is jailed in solitary confinement; recognition of the use of the Kurdish native language in education and during defence in courts, the hunger strikes have already arrived at a critical moment. The prisoners have stated in all their press releases that they are quite determined to struggle until the end unless their demands are met. We have been considering the demands of the strikers who are at death’s door at the moment, within the context of finding a solution of the Kurdish question and thus leading to an improvement of democracy and the human rights conditions in Turkey.

We, the Kurds in Kurdistan, Europe and friends of the Kurds, have had grave concerns that the prisoners have already arrived at death`s door and their demands have not been accepted yet.  Under these conditions of human and conscious deterioration, the Kurds are about to express waves of indignation.

The AKP government’s approach to the hunger strikes is quite superficial and callous.  Thus, the government has ignored the prospect of a crisis in Turkey which will soon be caused as a result of the hundreds of political prisoners’ hunger strike. The AKP government has obligations to carry out regarding to law, human rights and democracy in the context of the EU Accession Process. However, these obligations have not been performed for Kurds so far. In addition, it has increased the level of inhuman actions and torture against the rights of prisoners to resist. The strikers have been confined to their cells forcibly and faced torture and mistreatment.  In this case, International Amnesty has criticized the AKP government and reminded it of international law. Unfortunately, the government has carried on its policy of denying and annihilating the Kurds.

The EU Parliament stated in its last progress report that the AKP government had not performed its duties and obligations towards human rights, democracy and rule of law in the context of negotiation regarding the accession process.  If any international institutions or communities have tolerated in any way the AKP government, they will directly be signaling approval to the deaths of political prisoners. We, as Kurdish politicians, journalists, authors, artists and soon all representatives of Kurdish society, call on the EU Parliament and the EU Commission to take action immediately by adopting political and diplomatic sanctions in order to force the AKP Government to stop its genocidal politics against Kurds.

We demand the urgent release of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan and all political prisoners for the permanent solution of the Kurdish question and the democratization of Turkey.

We regard the ongoing hunger strikes in Turkish jails as part of our people’s struggle for freedom and democracy and identifies with the prisoners’ demands. We therefore demand the urgent release of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan and all political prisoners, because of their struggle for democracy in Turkey and lasting peace in the Kurdish issue.

We call the EU Parliament to send two ad hoc parliamentary delegations to Turkey. One delegation should visit the Kurdish People’s Leader Mr.  Abdullah Ocalan. Mr. Ocalan is since 15 months under solitude confinement. The second delegation is for visiting the hunger strikers in Turkish prisons. 

We are going to continue our sitting protest until our demands are going to be carried out. (ANF, Oct 30, 2012)

Appel urgent au Parlement Européen:
Stopper les décès dans les prisons en Turquie – Accepter les demandes des prisonniers !

Depuis le 12 Septembre 2012, dans 58 prisons en Turquie 680 prisonniers politique ont débuté une grève de la faim pour une durée indéterminée. Le nombre de grévistes augment tous les jours. A ce stade plusieurs grévistes ont atteint la limite de la mort. Les grévistes demandent que la politique d’isolation menée contre le Leader du Peuple Kurde Abdullah Ocalan prenne fin, que l éducation en langue maternelle soit reconnue et que le droit de plaidoyer en langue kurde soit reconnue. Les grèves ont atteint un seuil critique.

Les prisonniers dans toutes leurs déclarations attirent l’attention sur le fait que, tant que leurs demandes ne sont pas acceptées, ils ne mettront pas fin a la grève de la faim. Nous considérons les demandes des prisonniers comme la résolution de la question kurde, donc la démocratisation et une évolution pour les droits de l homme en Turquie.

Les résultats d’un refus implicite aux demandes des prisonniers, d’or et déjà  nous inquiète vivement nous les kurdes vivants en Europe. L’approche du gouvernement Turc envers les grèves de la faim est frivole et superficielle. Donc il fait le sourd et mieux face aux conséquences de cette résistance et la possible crise pouvant en résulter. Le gouvernement de l’AKP, dans le cadre des pourparlers pour sa candidature à Union Européenne a des responsabilités et des principes à respecter. En ce qui concerne les droits du peuple kurde pour l’instant rien a été fait. De plus avec l’augmentation de la pression et la torture l’atteinte au droit de grève est systématique. Les grévistes sont mis dans en cellule, sont violentés et torturés.

A ce sujet Amnesty International critiquant la Turquie, lui a rappelé le droit international. Mais le gouvernement Turc malgré ce rappel, poursuit sa politique de négation et de violence contre le peuple kurde.

Le Parlement européen dans son dernier rapport concernant la Turquie attirait l’attention sur les atteintes aux droits de l’homme, à la démocratie et au droit. Tenant compte de tout cela, être tolérant envers l’AKP c’est jouer avec la vie des prisonniers politique.

Nous, politiciens, journalistes, écrivains, artistes et les représentants de  la communauté kurde en Europe, appelons le Parlement européen et le Council de L’Europe à agir afin de mettre fin au génocide kurde perpétré par l’AKP.

Nous demandons; Pour la résolution de la question kurde et la démocratisation de la Turquie la liberté du lieder du peuple Kurde Abdullah Ocalan et de tous les prisonniers politiques; En toute urgence l’envoie d’une délégation auprès du lieder du peuple Kurde Abdullah Ocalan et d’une deuxième délégation dans les prisons où durent les grèves de la faim.

Tant que nos demandes n’ont pas été acceptées notre setting durera. (KNK-CDK, Oct 29-31, 2012)

Reuters: Risk of death close for Turkish hunger strike

Jailed Kurdish militants on hunger strike in Turkey may start to die within the next 10 days, Turkey’s main medical association warned on Thursday, saying the prime minister’s dismissal of the protest as a “show” risked hardening their resolve.

The hunger strike entered its 51st day on Thursday, with some 700 prisoners refusing food in dozens of prisons across Turkey, demanding the government grant greater Kurdish minority rights and better conditions for their jailed leader.

But the inmates are consuming sugar, water and vitamins that would prolong their lives and the protest by weeks.

The main demand of the protesters, mostly convicted members of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, is improved jail conditions for PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned on an island in the Marmara Sea south of Istanbul.

The protests follow a surge in violence between Turkey and the PKK, which took up arms 28 years ago to try to carve out a Kurdish homeland in Turkey’s southeast and which is designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and European Union.

“Our worry is that after around 40 days lasting damage begins to emerge and after 60 days deaths may begin,” Ozdemir Aktan, head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), which represents 80 percent of the nation’s doctors, told Reuters.

Dozens of leftist prisoners died in a hunger strike more than a decade ago, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has played down the latest action, saying only one prisoner was on a “death fast” and was being monitored medically.

“Currently there is no such thing as a hunger strike. This is a complete show,” he told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.

He has said the inmates were being manipulated by “merchants of death”, a reference to the PKK and Kurdish politicians, and accused Kurdish politicians of ordering the militants to go on strike while they themselves feasted on kebabs.

“Such statements make those taking part in hunger strikes more determined, motivating those who may have been considering giving up to continue. This can bring with it various illnesses and deaths,” Aktan said.

“JOURNEY OF DEATH”

A jailed member of parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who joined the hunger strike on Oct 15, rejected Erdogan’s description of the strike as a “show”.

“We and hundreds of our friends are on a journey of death,” Faysal Sariyildiz, member of parliament for the southeastern province of Sirnak, said from Diyarbakir prison where he is being held on remand on charges of links to the PKK.

“As much as hunger eats away at our bodies each day, the support of our people for the resistance is a big source of hope and morale for us,” he said in a statement released by the BDP.

The hunger strike is another area of apparent difference between Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, who have traded barbed comments in recent days over the police handling of a banned march.

One of Turkey’s best known novelists, Yasar Kemal, called at a news conference in Istanbul for efforts to stop the protesters dying, saying the government was responsible for what happens as it had been in previous hunger strikes.

Aktan said the TTB had asked the justice ministry several times for permission to enter prisons and monitor the situation but had not yet received a response.

Authorities accepted such a request during a previous hunger strike in 2000 when 122 people died. That total includes 30 prisoners and two guards killed when security forces stormed jails to end the far-left protest against isolation in cells.

Hundreds more suffered permanent health damage and the TTB said inmates were again at risk from neurological illnesses such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a condition whose symptoms include loss of memory and coordination.

Erdogan’s government has introduced reforms granting greater Kurdish cultural rights since taking power a decade ago, but Turkey is also prosecuting hundreds of Kurdish lawyers, academics, activists and politicians on suspicion of PKK links.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the militants took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out an independent state for Turkish Kurds, who now number around 15 million, or around a fifth of the population. (Reuters, Daren Butler, Nov 1, 2012)

Ten thousands crying out ‘Your demands are our demands’ in 23 centers

Thousands of people held massive marches in Diyarbakir, Istanbul, Kocaeli, Izmir, Balikesir, Adiyaman, Sirnak, Manisa,Viransehir, Cermik, Aydin, Ergani, Bingol, Egil, Dicle, Lice, Cizre, Dersim, Adana, Batman, Yuksekova, Semdinli, Bismil and to support the imprisoned members of PKK and PAJK, who are on the indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike for 50 days. Press releasements, massive supportive marches, sit-in acts were made. It has been stated that ‘The demands of hunger strikers must be accepted and met instantly’.

Thousands of people held massive marches to support the indefinite and non-alternate hunger strikes of the imprisoned Kurdish political prisoners, which were launched on 12 September to force the government to “instantly and without condition” provide the circumstances of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Ocalan’s freedom, health and safety, lift the bans and obstacles over mother tongue and meet/respect the democratic rights of Kurdish people. The indefinite and non-alternate hunger strikes are on the 50th day. More than 781 political prisoners are on the indefinite and non-alternate hunger strikes in 58 prisons.

Thousands of people among them BDP deputies, provincal and district organizaitons, BDP provincal, district and town council members, mayors and their assistants, lawyers, students, teachers, political parties and NGOs executives and members, HDK unities and executives, students unions, Peace Mother Initiative, MEYA-DER, TUHAD-DER, HDK, KURDÎ-DER, MADAY-DER, DOKH (the Democratic Free Women Movement), HRA (the Human Rights Association), culture centers, 78s Initiative, MKM executives and members participated into the support marches in Diyarbakir, Istanbul, Kocaeli, Izmir, Balikesir, Manisa,Viransehir, Cermik, Ergani, Bingol, Egil, Dicle, Lice, Cizre, Dersim, Aydin, Adiyaman, Sirnak, Adana, Batman, Yuksekova, Semdinli and Bismil.

The crowds cried that they supported the demands of prisoners. Also, the placards of “Not war, but peace”, “Not death, but life”, “We are greeting the resistence of Kurdish prisoners”, “The hunger strikes are on the 50th day, not death but solution”, “We are greeting the hunger strikers” and “The freedom of Kurdish people Leader Abdullah Ocalan is the freedom of Kurdish people” were carried by citizens. The slogans of “PKK is people, the people is here”, “Not death, but life”, “Long live Leader Apo”, “Long live the resistence of prisons”, “The prophet of peace is in Imrali” and “PKK” were shouted by thousands from time to time. Thousands of the people marches cried that ‘The demands of hunger strikers must be accepted and met instantly’.

Balance sheet of ‘Resistence Day’: 122 custodies, 7 arrests and dozens of wounded

122 people were taken into custody, 7 were arrested and dozens of people were wounded in the clashs began when police interfered to the thousands of people’s marches in lots of cities among them Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Mardin, Batman, Istanbul, Erzurum and Izmir. The marches were held to support the indefinite and non-aternate hunger strikes of the imprisoned members of PKK and PAJK.

The “all out resistence” on 30 October calls of BDP and DTK to support the indefinite-irreversible hunger strikes of the imprisoned Kurdish politicians, which was launched on 12 September to force the government to “instantly and without condition” provide the circumstances of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Ocalan’s freedom, health and safety, lift the bans and obstacles over mother tongue, became effective in the region cities yesterday and hundreds thousands of people were in the streets. They are in the streets to support the indefinite and non-aternate hunger strikes of the imprisoned members of PKK and PAJK.

The police officers interfered fiercely to the protestors. The police officers used tear gases, gas bombs and pressurized water. On the other hand, the citizens, protestors, replied to them with stones and firebombs. 122 people were taken into custody, 7 were arrested and dozens of people were wounded in the clashs began when police interfered to the thousands of people’s marches in lots of cities among them Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Mardin, Batman, Istanbul, Erzurum and Izmir. (DIHA, November 1st, 2012)

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