The historic hunger strike by Kurdish politicians and activists around the world has ended on its 200th day at the request of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, in a statement presented by the Asrin Law Office, after their second visit with Mr Öcalan in eight years.
Resistance has prevailed
Leyla Güven, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chair and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Hakkari, who began the strike in November 2018 as part of the struggle against isolation was joined by over 7,000 activists worldwide. Ending her hunger strike after 200 days and shortly before being rushed to a nearby hospital for vital treatment, Leyla Güven made this statement.
Öcalan expresses deepest affection and gratitude
Mr Öcalan’s legal team were allowed to visit him for the first time in eight years on the 2nd of May 2019. Öcalan’s aggravated and illegal isolation for 20 years in Imrali island prison, prompted the hunger strikers to take their drastic action as part of the struggle against isolation and there was some caution that this one visit may not have represented a meaningful end to his isolation. A second visit took place on the 22nd of May and from that visit, Mr Öcalan was able to make the following statement via Asrin Law office.
In light of the wide-ranging statements my two lawyers will be making, I expect the protests, especially of the comrades who have committed themselves to hunger strikes and death fasts, to come to an end. I would like to express that your intentions with regards to me have been realized and I present to all of you my deepest affections and gratitude.
In fact, after this point, I diligently hope and expect you to accompany me with adequate intensity and will power.
With lasting affection and regards,Abdullah Öcalan – 22 May 2019, Imralı Prison
Trade Union solidarity
Supporters of Newport resident Imam Sis, himself on day 161 of an indefinite hunger strike were justifiably emotional at the news. Imam and the London hunger strikers have been supported by solidarity from Welsh, Scottish and UK trade unionists, including Shavannah Taj of the PCS, who affiliated to the campaign last week and Ceryth Griffith of the FBU who renewed their commitment to our campaign in early May.
As well as applying pressure to our own governments the trade union movement has played a vital role in terms of both international solidarity and lobbying international institutions such as the Council of Europes Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
Tony Burke assistant general secretary of Unite and Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA formed part of an international peace delegation at the start of this year that was later able to meet with and lobby the CPT.
The struggle against isolation
The strength and depth of support from the trade union movement has shown what we can achieve when we work together and we look forward to developing the bonds of solidarity and activism we’ve made as we move into this next phase of the campaign to free Abdullah Öcalan and gain peace, justice and democracy for the Kurdish people.
Calls for the struggle against isolation and support for Imam and other UK hunger strikers have been diverse including community activists, Welsh AMs, Scottish MSP’s, MP’s, Council Leaders, poets, musicians and footballers. This broad and progressive coalition with the support of the trade union movement should be hopeful of what it can achieve. Yesterday Mandela, today Öcalan.
Dignified peace through democratic resolution
Imrali isolation is not only a serious legal problem but also a phenomenon that politically undermines the climate of peace in Turkey. Turkey has witnessed Mr Öcalan’s positive impact on the country when he was able to even partially perform his role as a political subject and present his solutions to fundamental problems. In the last four years of the aggravated isolation on Mr Öcalan, war, chaos and crisis have intensified in Turkey and the region, and pessimism has dominated over all the social structures.
On the other hand, we have seen that when Mr Öcalan was able to share his opinions even in a limited way for twice in the last 20 days, hope in a different and new perspective for the rapidly deepening problems has raised.
In these meetings, we clearly observed that Mr Öcalan had maintained his position to solve the problems based on a dignified peace through democratic resolution and he was hopeful and confident for the future.Asrın Law Office
How can you help the campaign?
With growing support 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 it’s critical you support us by requesting your branch, regional or national trade union affiliate now.
With trade union support in the last twelve months we’ve been able to;
- Have the privilege of being the international solidarity theme for the 2018 Durham Miners Gala and we look forward to a major presence at this years Tolpuddle Martyrs festival
- Sent delegations to Turkey and Kurdistan and supported local trade unions
- Successfully lobby the devolved government of Wales to support the goals of the campaign
- Run conferences in the House of Lords and City Hall London
Members of political parties able to pass motions at a branch or constituency level, particularly Labour members can use this model motion.
Alternatively, if you feel you are able you could make a one-off or regular donation to help the campaign.