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Will Wales be the first nation to show solidarity with Kurdish hunger strikers?

Hunger strikers enter life-threatening phase as Plaid Cymru tabled debate proposes the Welsh Government, on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales, write to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture calling on them to visit Imrali Prison to assess the conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdish leader.

Solidarity with the Kurdish community

A Kurdish-Welshman from Newport has entered day 94 of his hunger strike as the Senedd prepares to vote on solidarity with the Kurdish community.

If passed, the motion would make Wales the first nation worldwide through its government and Parliament to show its solidarity with the Kurdish hunger strikers.

Peaceful demands

Imam Sis from Newport has been on hunger strike since 17 December. He is currently living on vitamin B1 and B12 tablets, and one fresh lemonade a day supplemented with herbal teas and salty water.

He was joined on the 14th of March by three members of the London Kurdish community representing the Democratic Forces Union

We would like to remind that it is our utmost responsibility to listen to the cries of Leyla Güven and the hunger strikers, who are sacrificing their bodies for the peaceful demands of the people.

With the awareness of what every moment could cost society, we would like to let the public know that we are obliged to take on more responsibility. Indefinite hunger strikes have also begun in various parts of Europe, including Imam Şiş in Wales.

As of today, 3 of our comrades are initiating an indefinite hunger strike in London. We urge national and international authorities to take action to ensure that the lives of Güven and other prisoners are no longer in danger. Isolation is an oppressive policy against humanity. We express that the problem can be solved if people are treated with a human approach and the demands are met.

As the Democratic Forces Union, which is composed of 27 Turkish and Kurdish institutions in the UK, we hereby declare that we are on the side of the righteous and legitimate struggle of the hunger strikers.

Democratic Forces Union 14th March 2019

See also: #ImamsMotion Welsh Assembly to debate a motion on Öcalan solidarity

Hungers strikers call for an end to the isolation

The hunger strikes were triggered by Leyla Güven, a democratically elected Kurdish MP to the Turkish parliament, who has now been on https://www.freedomforocalan.org/hunger-strike-spreads/hunger strike for over 120 days and is nearing death. She is calling for an end to the isolation of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. The leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been held mostly in solitary confinement by Turkey since 1999, has been denied access to lawyers and family.

Over 300 Kurds have joined Ms Güven on an indefinite hunger strike in Turkish prisons, Kurdistan, Europe and North America. In Strasbourg, 14 Kurds have been on indefinite hunger strike since 17 December to pressure the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) to fulfil its duties and pay a visit to check on the situation of Öcalan.

This weekend, Zülküf Gezen, a political prisoner, became the first hunger striker to die.

Plaid Cymru motion

The Plaid Cymru assembly member and shadow minister for international affairs has stated ahead of today’s motion;  

The Welsh Government now has a Cabinet Minister for International Relations. Surely it’s incumbent on the National Assembly and Welsh Government to recognise and support the part of a Newport man is currently playing in an international struggle for justice, equality and human rights?

All we ask is for the Welsh Government on behalf of the Assembly write a letter to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture calling for the committee to visit Imrali Prison to assess the conditions of Abdullah Öcalan.

This is a human rights issue and fundamental Human rights obligations must be upheld in Turkey as the first step towards the ultimate goal that we all want to see – a peaceful, political solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey.

We are running out of time.  Today, Imam is on day 94 of his hunger strike. He is now finding it difficult to swallow liquids and will almost certainly die between 100 to 150 days if his hunger strike continues.

When democratically-elected representatives arrested and imprisoned for the very act of representing their people, we must speak and stand up. In the face of the bravery, courage and leadership demonstrated by Imam, the hunger strikers and all the Kurdish people, Wales has a duty to stand in solidarity with them all for freedom, against oppression.

Delyth Jewell AM, Plaid Cymru shadow minister for international affairs

A call to action

The Freedom for Ocalan campaign calls on all Welsh trade unionists to support this critical motion and would like to remind members of the labour movement that as is often the case working people are at the forefront of international solidarity.

This was demonstrated by the 2017 TUC annual congress unanimously agreeing on a substantively similar motion to the one being submitted by colleagues from Plaid Cymru.

Please contact your local assembly member using the information available here and consider affiliating your local branch to the campaign to add your voice to ours.

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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