NEWPORT (WALES) On 30 March Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, met with activists working closely with Imam Sis, a Kurdish hunger striker on day 104 (since 17 Dec 2018) protesting the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan. The activists have also been working with three Kurdish activists in London who have been on hunger strike since 14 March 2019.
Corbyn expressed sympathy with the hunger strikers and agreed to raise the issue with the Foreign Secretary as well as to inform the Labour Shadow Cabinet on the matter. He expressed a will to visit the three hunger strikers in London and was surprised about the lack of media attention on the hunger strikes.
Corbyn recognises Ocalan’s importance in the peace process
He asked about Imam Sis’s physical condition and was informed that Imam’s physical health has deteriorated. Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, was also present at the meeting and expressed concern at Imam’s condition and agreed with Corbyn that it would be possible for senior Labour figures to visit the three hunger strikers in London. Connections were made between Corbyn’s team and activists.
After the meeting, Corbyn spoke at a Labour rally and highlighted the importance of Abdullah Öcalan’s involvement in any peaceful settlement in the Middle East highlighting the calls for lawyers to be allowed to visit Mr Öcalan.
Imam Sis has been on hunger strike since 17 Dec 2018 and surviving on only vitamin tablets, salty water, and a glass of lemonade a day. The hunger strikes were initiated by a member of the Turkish parliament, Leyla Güven, after she began her hunger strike in prison on 7 Nov 2018 after being arrested by the Turkish state for speaking out against Turkish attacks on Afrin.
Return Ocalan’s access to family and legal team
The main demands of the hunger strikers are for Turkey to return Öcalan’s access to his lawyers and family, and for the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture to investigate the conditions of his imprisonment on Imrali Island.
The Freedom for Ocalan campaign is calling for all trade unionists to affiliate to the campaign so that our collective voices can be added to those calling for justice for Öcalan and all political prisoners.