Kurdish groups and individuals, including two lawmakers from Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) launched a hunger strike in French city Strasbourg on Thursday.
The hunger strike, which is being held in a tent in front of the European Council, was launched to raise awareness and in solidarity with more than 200 hunger strikers who have been protesting prison conditions and rights violations, some since 15 February said an official.
Five hundred people, including Kurdish politicians, activists, academics and writers converged in Strasbourg to launch the protest.
‘Many strikers on threshold of death’
In a statement the protestors said hunger strikers, 13 of whom have not had any intake of food for 59 days, were on the threshold of death and that urgent action needed to be taken.
“Turkey’s leading human rights organisations have voiced serious concerns over the health of hunger strikers. The persecution and rights violations against Kurds and other opposition group, especially following the 15 July coup attempt, has lead people to launch these hunger strikes as a last result,” read the statement, adding that EU’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) urgently needed to inspect prisons and called on the European Council to pressure the Turkish government.
Hunger strikes spread across Europe
According to Kurdish news sites, short term hunger strikes have also been launched in several cities in Cyprus, the UK, Germany, Denmark, France and Switzerland.
13 protestors on strike for 59 days
The prison hunger strike was launched by 13 Kurdish prisoners in Izmir’s Sakran prison on 15 February to demand an end to rights violations, bad treatment and the isolation of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The protest has spread across a dozen prisons to include more than 200 inmates.
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.