Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey end hunger strike

Turkish prison (File photo)

The hunger strike launched by prisoners in Turkish prisons has been brought to an end on the 64th day after an appeal by the Kurdish group Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK).

In a statement released on Wednesday, the hunger strikers said they were bringing the protest to an end following the call by the KCK.

“The fascist policies and practices of the AKP government have become more entrenched following its alliance with the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party], and they have tried to eradicate democracy and freedom. Political genocide operations, the continuing isolation of our leader [Abdullah Ocalan] and rights violations in prisons has worsened conditions,” the statement, as reported by Dihaber, read.

The hunger strike, launched on 15 February by prisoners convicted of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Free Women’s Party (PAJK) membership, was demanding an end to worsening prison conditions, rights violations and the isolation of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Initially launched by 13 inmates the protest spread to more than 30 prisons with 305 people participating. Kurdish groups across Turkey and Europe also held short term hunger strikes in support of the prison protest.

The statement also added that prisoners would launch even bigger protests if the rights violations, arrest of politicians and activists and isolation of Ocalan continued.

Human rights and health organisations had warned of irreversible damage and casualties if hunger strikers continued the protest.

It is not known whether any of the prisoners’ demands were met by authorities.

International rights groups have reported torture and a rise in mass violations in Turkish prisons since last July’s coup attempt. Turkey has denied the charges.

A 67 day hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners in 2012 was brought to an end after Turkish authorities lifted the isolation on Abdullah Ocalan, who then called for an end to the strike. The protest paved the way for negotiations and a 2-year ceasefire and solution process between the Turkish government and PKK.