Right now, there are 63 Kurdish prisoners who have been on hunger fast for 42 days. The strike has included 380 political prisoners of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and PAJK (Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party) in 39 prisons since 15 October.
12th September, a black day in Turkey’s political history, is the date that the military coup d”etat took place in 1980. Turkey’s opposition forces have had to suffer cruelly at the hands of the state. The 1980 military coup detained over a million people, imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands, carried out capital punishment on hundreds and enshrouded the whole of the country in darkness. The leading victims of these inhumane practices were the Kurdish and leftists demanding freedom, democracy and liberty just like in the current day.
The aim of the military coup was to silence the opposition and create a monolithic society in Turkey and Kurdistan using any means necessary; and the state was almost successful if it hadn’t been for the resistance of the Kurdish and Turkish cadres of the modern Kurdish Freedom Movement which in those days had recently been founded. It is an irony that these cadres were also imprisoned in Diyarbakir prison when on 14th July 1982 they began what is now termed as the ‘Great Death Fast Resistance’ in protest against the prevention of the right to defence, torture and inhumane prison conditions. The leaders of that ‘death fast’; Kemal Pir, M. Hayri Durmus, Ali Cicek and Akif Yilmaz all lost their lives. But this single event stoked the fire that had been lit by the likes of Mazlum Dogan. Necmi Oner, Ferhat Kurtay, Esref Anyik and Mahmut Zengin who had immolated themselves, and burnt to smithereens the shroud that had been pulled over the people, raising the Kurdish resistance against the Turkish state.
Today’s conditions are very similar to those of the 12 September 1980 coup times. The AKP regime, like its military counterpart, has detained tens of thousands of Kurdish politicians, journalists, health workers, lawyers, human rights activists and children, imprisoning almost ten thousand since 2009, when the witch-hunt known as the KCK (The Union of Communities in Kurdistan) trials began. It is not insignificant that almost all these people are members of the legal Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), the AKP’s most fierce and only opposition in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. And that not a single fire-arm, weapon or anything pertaining to terrorist activity was found or discovered about these people who have been in prison for almost four years without sentencing is further proof that the AKP is behind the ‘hostage’ situation.
With only small changes in the constitution the AKP could bring an end to the unnecessary suffering of these people and their families. However, while this grave injustice hangs over the nation like a dark cloud Turkey’s Prime Minister has made ‘one language, one state, one nation’ his favourite slogan, saying that there is no longer a Kurdish issue in Turkey. The AKP-dominated Turkish media has followed suit and is not even reporting the clashes between the PKK and Turkish army anymore. Furthermore and to the utter horror of Kurds and democratic circles there is yet to be even a single news item about the ‘death fast’ on mainstream Turkish TV. There is a total black-out regarding all matters Kurdish.
The hunger strikers have three demands to be realized for ending their action. Firstly, the demands of the strikers are, first of all, to arrange conditions of health-security and freedom for Mr Abdullah Ocalan, Leader of Kurdish People held in total isolation for 13 years, and who has not meet with his lawyers since 27 July 2011. For Mr Abdullah Ocalan is the only person who can carry out an enduring peace to the Kurdish conflict, the AKP Goverment must end the illegitimate isolation against him and start renegotiations and a peace talks process with Mr Ocalan as soon as possible.
Secondly, the prisoners demand to recognition of Kurdish as a language in use in education and the public sphere. Thirdly and in conjuction with the second demand, they have underlined that they will speak Kurdish in courts and the judges must accept their defence in Kurdish.
In summary, the demands are to open the way to having the right to use their Kurdish mother tongue in the public sphere, including courts and the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state. These three demands are all about preparing a base upon which a peaceful period can be built. Without realisation of these conditions, the deadlock of politics in Turkey can not be opened and the conflictual process can intensify and deepen into an unsustainable mode by Turkish state.
We call on democratic institutions and international public audience to heed these demands of the prisoners and criticize Turkish goverment and exert pressure on the AKP regime to make a start to the way of peaceful process by accepting these demands.
It is the death limit and urgency degree. We have grave concerns that news of deaths may at any time appear.