Kurdish political activists on hunger strike in London 13 – 17 March 2012

Kurdish Federation UK, 13 March 2012

Those familiar with the situation in Turkey emphasise correctly that the central problem facing the country is the need for a resolution of Kurdish Question. If a problem is not correctly identified, then any supposed ‘solutions’ will only result in a more dangerous situation. The Kurdish question clearly should not be characterised as a”terrorism problem” although it is persistently portrayed as such.

Kurds have been living in a state of war for the past 40 years. As one of the oldest peoples in history, divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the Kurds are thus deprived of their freedom even today. In a world where democracy and freedom are widely taken for granted the Kurds are still deprived of their basic rights to communicate in their own language, enjoy their culture and cherish their own traditions. Speaking or writing in Kurdish are still prohibited in Syria, Iran and Turkey. The Kurds, who live within the borders of these countries, still do not have the political status of a nation.

Of these three countries, it is the Turkish state which carries out the most systematic repression. The Turkish state persistently tries to portray what is a political question about 40 million people as a problem of “terrorism”.  They try to suppress the Kurdish demands for peace, democracy and freedom by force and criminalise the whole of Kurdish society by labelling them as terrorists or supporters of terrorism. The result is that Turkey today is the state which has the highest number of people arrested and charged with “terrorism” offences. The waves of arrests in the last three years have seen some 9,000 people including six members of parliament, 31 mayors, 96 journalists, 36 lawyers, 183 party executives, trade unionists, civil rights activists, women and students, have been imprisoned. More than 2,000 children, known by the public as ‘stone throwing kids’, are held in prison.

In addition to this massive political clampdown, military operations have escalated in the last few months and violated all international laws when chemical weapons were used against civilians and Kurdish guerrilla forces while dozens of people have been killed on both sides.

The European Union and the USA stand complicit in Turkish state terror against the Kurds. Their complicity includes not only turning a blind eye to Turkey’s actions. The USA and EU are actually providing Turkey with active military, political, economic and diplomatic support.

The US provides the Turkish state with drones and logistical support from its secret intelligence system. The European states, in particular Germany and France, remain silent in the face of the massacres of the Turkish state and by so doing give their tacit consent to Turkey encouraging it to carry on with its state terror. For example, amid the Roboski massacre of 28 December 2011, which saw 34 Kurdish villagers killed by Turkish military bombing, Europe remained quiet, while a statement issued by the US simply read, “We stand behind Turkey”.

The attacks of the last five to six months by the Turkish state have the sole aim of suppressing the freedom struggle and legitimate resistance of the Kurdish people. To achieve this they have first of all put the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Ocalan, under stricter conditions of solitary confinement. Mr Ocalan is seen by a majority of the Kurdish people as their political representative and many Kurds identify peesonally with the fate of Ocalan seeing his imprisonment as their imprisonment, his freedom as their freedom.

The Turkish state is able to continue holding Ocalan in isolation conditions because it enjoys the support of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. Ocalan has been unable to speak to his lawyers since 27 July 2011. 36 lawyers have been arrested and imprisoned simply for carrting out their legal duties of representing their client, Mr Ocalan. At the same time any contact with his family has also been stopped.

Until about a year ago the Turkish state was engaging in a dialogue with Abdullah Ocalan with a view to opening negotiations with him. This signalled that a new process had started, but it broke down as a result of the refusal of the state to make the next necessary steps. Instead of continuing dialogue Turkey embarked on war and violence. Mr Ocalan is not an ordinary prisoner. Both the USA and Europe played a determining role in Ocalan’s illegal abduction in Kenya on 15 February 1999 and in maintaining his isolation on the prison island of Imrali. Imrali is under the supervision of the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe and its agencies are the organisations which the Kurdish people turn to with their concerns about the state terror carried out in Kurdistan and the isolation imposewd on Mr Ocalan. But the fact that they fail to show a minimum response indicates that they are taking sides in this case.

Despite all this unjust treatment, the Kurds continue to insist on a free, just and equal status. One of the absolute preconditions for peace is the ending of the unlawful and arbitrary isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, who needs to be seen as a key figure in any negotated resolution of the Kurdish question. The Kurdish people are deeply concerned about his health and his life. This was the reason why 400 political prisoners in Turkey have launched a hunger strike and outside prison they are being supported by tens of thousands of Kurdish people.

As a group of Kurds who are fighting for Democracy and Freedom, we declare that we are starting a hunger strike on March ……calling for an end to the political and military genocide and demanding “Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – and a status for Kurdistan.”

Our demands:

1. The issue of the threat to Ocalan’s health and safety must be placed immediately on the agenda of the Council of Europe and its agencies in order to alleviate our existing fears.

2. The intensified isolation of Ocalan, which has not only massively unsettled the Kurdish people, but could also be the cause of a war with heavy casualties, must be lifted immediately. There must be the possibility again of consultations between Ocalan and his lawyers. 

3. International institutions, above all the Council of Europe, must take the initiative to ensure the release of Ocalan and to resolve the Kurdish question.

4. The Counci of Europe must recommence the “monitoring” process due to the oppressive and violent politics of the Turkish state towards the Kurds. If Turkey continues on their current path, their membership must be suspended.

5. The EU and the European states should end their support for Turkey’s violent politics of denial, and use their influence to promote a fair and peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question. The first step towards this is to take the Kurdish freedom movement off the terror list, on which it was initially unfairly placed.

6. In order for the Kurdish question to be steered through democratic and political channels, Abdullah Ocalan’s conditions must immediately be improved, so that he can be politically active. For this, international organisations and institutions must take the initiative.

7. Finally, we ask the international democratic public and its organisations to actively support, and to declare their solidarity with, the fight of the Kurdish people for democracy, freedom, and peace.

For information contact

Kurdish Federation UK
knklondon@gn.apc.org, 0207 272 4131 or
M Aksoy: 07506 702 697