Kurds’ Hunger Strike Aims to Open Path to Negotiations: Kurdish Party Co-Chair Tuncel

Pro-autonomy Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Sebahat Tuncel has called the declaration to start an “indefinite hunger-strike” on 5 September a “historic day”.

Below are highlights from Tuncel’s interview with DIHA.

“Today is a historic day. The Kurdish political movement and democratic forces have come to a decision to end the isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan. We have decided to start a hunger strike for an indefinite period of time until there is a meeting between him and his lawyers or a delegation.

“Öcalan is a world leader”

“Mr Öcalan is important; with his thoughts, ideas and suggestions he is not just a leader for the Kurds but a world leader struggling for Turkey’s democracy and the future of the Middle East. In this sense it is the future of all Middle Eastern peoples’ that is under isolation in his person on the island prison of Imralı. For these reasons, his health and safety, an end to isolation and his freedom are imperative for the future of the Kurdish people but also Turkey’s democracy.

“We must build a wall of defence around Öcalan”

“The issue is not just about receiving news from Mr. Öcalan but building the foundations and conditions for a return to negotiations; Mr. Öcalan’s situation is of utmost importance to realise this. Therefore what we want to achieve initially with the indefinite hunger strike is build a spirited struggle for freedom and democracy that will unify around the strike,” said Tuncel.

Several Kurdish and pro-Kurdish political parties and organisations gathered on 31 August to declare the launch of a hunger strike with the participation of 50 people to “break the dead-lock in regards to the resolution of the Kurdish question.”

Previous hunger-strike opened path to negotiations

While some commentators and activists have supported the decision others have said it is a passive action that will put the lives of the strikers in danger.

A similar 68-day hunger strike in 2012, which was launched by political prisoners, and joined by thousands of others across the world, opened the path for negotiations between the Kurdish movement and Turkish state in 2013.

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