Hundreds attended a Cardiff rally in support of the Kurdish hunger strikers worldwide and Imam Sis in particular. Imam is a beloved and well-respected anti-racism campaigner based in South Wales who has now been on hunger strike for over 110 days.
A proud history of internationalism
On Sunday the 7th April 2019, senior trade unionists, politicians and human rights lawyers shared a platform to express their solidarity with the Kurdish hunger strikers.
Speakers at the march included Nejla Ezdan from the Kurdish Women’s Movement, Shavanah Taj from the PCS Union, Allison Hulmes – National Director of BASW Cymru, Memod Aksoy from the Kurdish Community in Wales who has now joined the strike, Delyth Jewell – Assembly Member (Plaid Cymru), Mick Antoniw – Assembly Member (Labour), Hilary Brown – International Human Rights Lawyer, Adam Johannes from Cardiff People’s Assembly and Cerith Griffiths from the Fire Brigades Union.
Wales has a long and proud history of internationalism and collectively, we will support the Kurdish community in Wales, in pressing for Turkey to honour the human rights treaties it is a signatory to.BASW Cymru National Director Allison Hulmes
Statement of support from Social Workers Union at Cardiff rally
I’m sorry not to be able to be with you today, but I send a message of solidarity with today’s demonstration, and with Imam Sis for bravely highlighting and protesting at the imprisonment and treatment of Abdullah Öcalan who has been kept in near total isolation in prison in Turkey over many years.
We fully support the campaign and urgency for the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to fulfil its duties and urgently pay a visit to check on the situation of Öcalan.
We in the Social Workers Union offer our full support and we need to highlight the draconian situation in Turkey with attacks that turn a blind eye to the atrocities being perpetrated against the Kurds. The Turkish government needs as a matter of urgency to restart the peace process with the Kurds and respect the rights of all its people. We call for an end to repression of the Kurds and justice for the Kurdish people throughout the Middle East.
The historical lessons of the anti-apartheid and Irish struggles showed that dialogue is the only way forward for the issues facing Turkey.
We remain proud to stand in solidarity with the courageous Kurdish women and men who continue to demonstrate on this matter.
In solidarity,John McGowan – General Secretary of Social Workers Union
Solidarity from Strasbourg to Cardiff rally
A message of support from the 14 hunger strikers in Strasbourg was also read for crowds at the Cardiff rally.
On behalf of our group, I send you our greetings and solidarity. We have been following your actions in solidarity with our hunger strike and we have been heartened, encouraged and thankful for all this.
With this kind of solidarity, we are sure that we can build a better world. Do not stop until that better world is reached.Kardo Bokanî, Strasbourg hunger striker
Fire Brigades Union chief say’s ‘Silence is deafening’
Cerith Griffiths, Wales regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, spoke of his pride and humility to have joined the march and brought greetings of solidarity from FBU members to the Kurdish community in Cardiff and beyond.
The demands of the hunger strikers are simple and uncontroversial: that Turkey honours its commitment to the anti-torture convention of the Council of Europe (of which Turkey is a member). Öcalan has been held in total isolation since 2011, with visits from his lawyers denied and just two family visits permitted. The hunger strikers’ demands are far from radical — in essence, they are asking for the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and for sovereign states to pressure Turkey into complying with internationally recognised human rights standards.
The hunger strikes are a question of life and death. The silence from European states in the face of the suffering of the Kurdish people and, in many cases, their own citizens, has been deafening. What the hunger strikers need now is media attention and serious political engagement with their demands — from both grassroots campaigns and elected representatives.Cerith Griffiths Wales regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union
How can you help the campaign?
With growing support and international solidarity in the trade union movement, devolved governments and the Parliamentary Labour Party the Freedom for Ocalan campaign is calling on trade unionists and activists to support the many local campaigns now running throughout the UK and Europe.
If you’re a member of a trade union we ask that you support us by requesting your branch, regional or national trade union affiliate now.
Members of political parties able to pass motions at a branch or constituency level, particularly Labour members can use this model motion.
Residents in London who wish to add their voice to the growing pressure on the London Assembly and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, asking them to add their weight to the calls for the European Council to instruct the CPT to investigate, could write a letter to their representative using this model.
Demos in your area
Activists in London and the South East are invited to join the Kurdistan Students Union demonstration outside 10 Downing Street, at 14.00 on Saturday April 13th.