20 Kurdish activists will be on hunger strike from the 13th to the 17th of March in protest against increasing repression in Turkey.
Fedbir, the Kurdish Federation of the UK, will be staging the hunger strike on the northern terrace of Trafalgar Square, in parallel with similar actions which have been taking place within Turkey and across Europe.
Hundreds of prisoners in Turkish jails, including imprisoned members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party and other elected officials, have been on hunger strike since the end of February. The hunger strikes are a desperate plea to the Turkish government to halt the latest clampdown on Kurdish political organising and protest. In the last three years, over 8000 people - including elected MP’s mayors and local councillors, journalists, students, human rights activists, and academics - have been sent to prison in what Prime Minister Erdogan’s government refers to as counter-terrorism operations.
These operations constitute major violations of human rights. Arrests have been made over speeches, newspaper articles and poetic expression that support Kurdish rights in Turkey. Amnesty International has recently expressed its concern over the vague and broad anti-terror laws in Turkey. Turkey has defined terrorism not by actions and tactics but by political aims, which has led to thousands of individuals being prosecuted for membership of a terrorist organisation or for denigrating ‘Turkishness’.
The strikers are also demanding freedom for Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is currently jailed on the prison island of Imrali in almost complete isolation and without access to lawyers since July 2011. 36 members of Abdullah Ocalan’s defence team were also arrested and imprisoned in December 2011.
For more information contact Fedbir, Kurdish Federation UK.
Anita de Klerk is a lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy, Marxist activist and founder of the People's Flotilla Against Austerity.
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