British woman fighting Islamic State goes on hunger strike in support of Turkey prison protest

Kimmie Taylor joined the YPJ and is currently in Northern Syria's autonomous region Rojava in 2016. (Photo: Kimmie Taylor)

The first British woman to have joined the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, Kimmie Taylor, has launched a 5-day hunger strike in solidarity with dozens of inmates protesting prison conditions in Turkey.

13 prisoners charged or convicted with membership to Kurdish parties began the hunger strike on 15 February and have since been joined by dozens of others across 8 other prisons.

Posting on her personal Facebook page on Thursday, Taylor wrote:

“I am on hunger strike, as of today, in solidarity with our comrades in prisons across Turkey whose strike is now in its 51st day. Whilst the world sits silently on all issues, our comrades are the people that don’t, they are the ones who stand up fiercely to protect others and work relentlessly to build societies of equality and freedom.”

The 27-year-old socialist activist from northern city Blackburn, who is thought to have taken a break from fighting, went onto say that prisoners’ demands needed to be met.

“Not only have they been wrongly imprisoned, but conditions are dismal and rights are not met. I cannot sit silently, knowing the people that I love and respect, my sisters and brothers in this revolutionary struggle, are days away from dying due to the world ignoring their call. This five day solidarity strike is an act of solidarity for them. Turkish prisons must meet their demands.”

According to human rights groups the hunger strike has reached the “death threshold” and inmates health is rapidly waning.

Political prisoners in Izmir’s Sakran Prison launched the hunger strike demanding an end to the banning of books and social activities, prevention of social communion, isolation and raids on wards by guards. The strike has spread across several other prisons since.

A return to negotiations between the government and Kurdish political groups is also amongst demands, as well as a meeting with imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Taylor became the first British woman to join the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the all-female affiliate of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) last March. She is currently thought to be on the outskirts of IS stronghold Raqqa, ahead of the final offensive to storm the city.

Taylor’s journey has been widely reported on by the international media, leading to her family being targeted by the British intelligence agency MI5, she has said.

Update: Taylor also published a video to document her protest.