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The struggle against isolation continues as the hunger strike ends

The struggle against isolation continues as the hunger strike ends

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.

Hearing Öcalan’s voice outside is very important with regards to Turkey’s democratization and peace in the Middle East. I would just wish that we had prevailed without any loss. Our heart is broken but resistance has indeed prevailed.

Leyla Güven

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.

Dear comrades,

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.

In April the annual meeting of the Scottish Trade Union Council expressed their support and concern for the Kurdish cause with not one but two motions.

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.

Ending the hunger strike does not mean the end of the struggle against isolation. In fact, we will continue to struggle in other forms to ensure isolation is definitively brought to an end

Imam Sis

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 movementdevolved 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;

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.

By Freedom for Ocalan

The Freedom for Öcalan campaign is a UK trade union-backed initiative to secure the release of imprisoned Kurdish political prisoner Abdullah Öcalan.

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