By DELYS JEWELL, New Statesman

4 May 2019

Delyth Jewell is Assembly Member for the South Wales East list and shadow international affairs minister

“Away from the clamour of Brexit and the European elections, for many weeks now a quiet struggle has been unfolding in the Kurdish community centre in Newport, where a young refugee is on indefinite hunger strike in protest at the treatment of a Kurdish leader by the Turkish authorities.

The name of the refugee is Imam Sis, and I am proud to call him a friend. At 32, he is only a year older than me. But he’s been on this hunger strike for 139 days and is now very close to death.

Imam is one of hundreds of people over the world who are on hunger strike in protest at the inhuman treatment of the Kurdish leader Öcalan who has been held in solitary confinement since 1999 and has been refused access by legal representatives. At the end of last year, my friend, Imam, was inspired to take part in the hunger strike by a Turkish MP, Leyla Guven, who has now been without food for 177 consecutive days. Since December, Imam has followed her example and has survived on only drinks and vitamin supplements.”

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