27 May 2019|Peace in Kurdistan
After 200 days, HDP MP Leyla Guven, along with other Kurdish MPs and thousands of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, have ended their hunger strikes in response to the breaking of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation.
In ending her hunger strike, Leyla Guven, whose action in November 2018 started a mass movement, said the strike had achieve its immediate demands. She went on to declare that the struggle would continue by other means.
Lawyers for Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan held a press conference at the Taksim Hill Hotel in Istanbul regarding the meeting they were allowed with their client. The conference was attended by lawyers Faik Özgür Erol, Newroz Uysal and Rezan Sarıca from Asrın Law Office.
The meeting between Öcalan and his lawyers on May 2nd lasted one hour. The meeting was the first one held since 27 July 2011 when the Kurdish leader was last allowed to meet with his lawyers. Since then, lawyers for Öcalan submitted a total of 810 appeals to visit him on Imralı Island Prison.
Full text of the statement read by lawyer Newroz Uysal on Monday, with the signature of Abdullah Öcalan and three other prisoners on Imralı, is as follows;
“TO THE PUBLIC
There is a need for a deep social reconciliation in this historic process we are experiencing.
There is an urgent need for a method of democratic negotiations, far removed from any and all polarization and culture of conflict for the solution of problems.
We can solve the problems in Turkey, and even in the region, starting with the war, with soft power – with intelligence and political and cultural strength instead of tools of physical violence.
We believe that through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), all should aim to solve the issues in Syria by refraining from conflict culture and within the perspective of local democracy guaranteed by the Constitution in the framework of Syria’s unity. As such, Turkey’s sensibilities should be minded.
With all due respect for the resistance of friends in and outside of prisons, we would like to stress that they should not take it to the level to threaten their health or result in deaths. For us, their mental, physical and spiritual health is above all. We also believe that the most meaningful approach is connected to developing a mental and spiritual stance.Our stance in Imrali is to deepen and clarify the method of expression we declared with the Newroz 2013 statement and to continue on this path.For us, a dignified peace and democratic political solution are paramount.
We commend all who were concerned and all who took a stand with respect due to our stance in Imrali, and we would like to offer our immense gratitude.
A. ÖCALAN H. YILDIRIM Ö. H. KONAR V. AKTAŞ”
“Dear working, labouring comrades!
I send you my greetings on this May 1st, International Labour Day! As you know, similar to 8th March International Women’s Day, May 1st is among the historic gains of the resistance of women, workers, peasants, and revolutionaries against the exploitation of the ruling classes.
Despite the bloodshed and violence of the ruling classes, the efforts of revolutionaries and socialists have prevailed through determination and struggle. From the perspective of socialists and revolutionaries, these important days are not merely days of celebration, but also represent occasions to increase our revolutionary struggles against capitalism and all other forms of exploitation.
The German philosopher and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx said that wherever personal property is hegemonic, relations between humans and relations between women and men will turn into a trade. While this is certainly true when analysed from the perspective of the European-centric capitalist system, this issue is somehow different in the context of the Middle East. While European-centric capitalist modernity attributes various meanings to all parts of the woman’s body in order to commodify her existence in line with the perceived market demands, in many Middle Eastern societies, women are still viewed as men’s personal property and thus lives in a slave-like state of being.
With the collapse of real socialism, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK – which began its struggle with a Marxist-Leninist ideology in 1978 under the leadership of Abdullah Öcalan – defended fundamental socialist principles, while initiating a shift in the socialist paradigm. He reminded us that the primary contradiction in the Middle East is not between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie but rather within the oppressive relations between women and men, underlining that without dissolving the mutually reinforcing ties between patriarchy and capitalism, it will be impossible to achieve socialism.
Therefore, without the liberation of women from patriarchal societal structures and the rejection of roles attributed to them by the capitalist system – in other words without women belonging only to themselves and without women reaching the consciousness of liberating society in the personage of their own liberation – the power and domination relations that form the fundamental dynamics of the master-slave contradiction will not be overcome. Thus, unless they consider this, the liberationist revolutions that emerge are doomed to rot from within and eventually integrate into the global capitalist system.
As seen in the Soviet and Chinese experience, while supposedly being against private property and with the model of the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry, in the end the most advanced state monopolies and capitalisms were developed. Despite starting with a claim to lead a socialist fight against the capitalist system, power-thirsty male-dominated mentalities, with bureaucratic, seemingly proletarian totalitarian state apparatuses, were chasing after hegemony. As a result, real socialism dissolved in the face of capitalist bourgeois parliamentary democracies.
We can understand the relationship between power, hegemony, state and the male, when considering how, after nearly 100 years of Soviet socialist rule, billionaire oligarchs and totalitarian presidents like Putin emerged from this regime. Let us not get into explaining the situation of capitalist-imperialist China, which betrayed the legacy of Mao, the leader of the communist Chinese revolution, while still insisting on calling itself a people’s republic.
For all of these reasons, Abdullah Öcalan said that the Kurdistan revolution, which will play a key role for the democratic and socialist Middle East revolution, is not a working-class revolution, but will be the revolution of women. As the oppressed among the oppressed, our revolution would be a women’s liberationist mental revolution. In other words, with the democratic politics of self-liberating working and socialist women, with their special participation in all realms of social and economic life, the anti-democratic and authoritarian male-dominated states in the Middle Eastern status quo will be weakened. With the leadership of women, the aim is for a socialist society through grassroots democracy, cooperative economy and a revolutionary power to mobilise self-defence against all forms of attacks.
Dear comrades, dear sisters and brothers!
As a working comrade of yours, who has attained a consciousness of history and class, I have struggled alongside you and always stood in solidarity with you until today to the best of my abilities. Today, as a hunger strike activist, who is putting his life at risk, I request that you, as my Welsh socialist comrades carry out your internationalist solidarity duties. With faith in the fact that you will continue to do so as you have done in the past, I wish that you increase your solidarity with the revolutionary forces in Kurdistan and the Middle East as soon as possible.
Besides constituting a cradle of humanity and civilisation, the Middle East is also home to countless peoples, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs that have lived together and alongside each other for millennia. That is what makes it one of the geographies with the most urgent need for democracy, women’s liberation and socialism.
It is unfortunately hard to believe that there will be tranquility in Europe unless the situation of war and chaos in the Middle East is overcome. Let us not forget: just as the Middle East will not democratise unless Kurdistan and Palestine are liberated, it will unfortunately not be possible to see a world of justice and equality, unless the Middle East democratises.
Everybody must know that the most barbaric and fascist states of the Middle East – fascist dictator Erdoğan’s Turkey, racist Netanyahu’s Israel, and fundamentalist king Salman’s Saudi Arabia – do not act alone in their crimes against humanity. Behind these states are western states, in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany that support the genocidal policies of these barbaric states.
For this reason, as Welsh socialists and revolutionaries, we must stand against the policies of the Theresa May government. We must not allow the further armament of states and we must raise our voices against the arms trade. History has burdened our shoulders with these responsibilities. Every day that goes by without struggle is a service to the ruling classes of the capitalist system.
Lastly, comrades, as stated by the great Karl Marx: we have nothing to lose but our chains. Today is the day to unite against the capitalist system, the exploitation by monopolies and patriarchal backwardness around the world. Today is the day to end the wars and to begin to create our own liberationist, egalitarian, peaceful and socialist world.
For all this to happen especially in the Middle East, breaking the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, as a leader of the Kurdish people and of Democratic Confederalism, carries vital importance. As you are aware, like my activist comrades around the world, I started an indefinite-irreversible hunger strike on December 17, 2018 to break the isolation. While all of the hunger strikers have important health issues, our morale is high. No matter what it will take, our determination to continue our action is unbreakable.
Dear comrades, dear sisters and brothers!
Although the continuous solidarity of Welsh people and socialists everywhere with the hunger strikes has given voice to the situation in Kurdistan, the British government, the European Council and the CPT continue their silence and in fact try to criminalise the Kurdistan liberation movement. This makes them complicit in the loss of lives in the past, present and future. Only our increased struggle will break this silence. We do not rely on the merciful conscience of the rulers. I doubt whether they have a conscience at all.
For all these reasons, I call on everybody to increase their solidarity actions in support of the ongoing hunger strike to break the isolation on Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan, to constantly email the CPT, Amnesty International, and parliament members with information documents in order to pressure them to put the issue on their agenda, and to mobilise protests.
Long live May 1st!
Long live the fraternity of the world peoples, long live the socialist struggle!”
SOURCE: Kurdistan Solidarity Network
Eluned Morgan AM (Labour), the Welsh Government Minister for International Relations & Welsh Language, has sent a letter to Jeremy Hunt (see letter in slideshow below) urging him to contact the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) re: the isolation of Öcalan, in light of the deteriorating condition of Imam Sis (on day 138 of his hunger strike today).
There is also a cross-party letter, organised by Plaid Cymru, which should surface Tuesday 7 May 2019.
This, combined with the motion passed by the Welsh Assembly, is an incredibly significant political achievement.
Jessica Morden MP (Labour) has also reportedly written to the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt.
This comes the day after Plaid Cymru issued an urgent appeal to the UK Government to take action on the hunger strikes and contact the CPT: https://www.partyof.wales/hunger_striker_imam_sis_s_condition_critical?fbclid=IwAR1alqcV6NuQJ0qV0e7Jq1SM23Rbsdb81L8ARBlEsUy2eytvyM1hicm-IfQ
Margaret Owen, human rights barrister, women’s rights advocate and patron of Peace in Kurdistan campaign has completed her one-week hunger strike in solidarity with Shaker Aamer, who is among the inmates currently refusing food at Guantanamo Bay. She has been writing blogs throughout the week, has given interviews and had a letter published in the Guardian in an effort to raise awareness of Shaker’s plight – a British citizen who has been held in Guantanamo Bay for the past 11 years without charge.
Margaret undertook the action in association with Reprieve and the Stand Fast for Justice Campaign, which is supporting hunger strikers the prison camp and demands justice for the detainees.
Margaret Owen is among the protesters entering a solidarity hunger strike for British Guantanamo Bay prisoner Shaker Aamer. The campaign aims to put pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to secure Mr Aamer’s release from the illegal US prison camp. Mr Aamer, whose family lives in Battersea, has been held in Guantanamo Prison without charge since 2002 when Afghan soldiers in Jalalabad abducted and delivered him to the US Bagram airbase.
Mr Aamer’s lawyers maintain that he was working in Afghanistan for a Saudi charity and say his jailers extracted false confessions under torture. He has long been cleared for release by the US.
The hunger strike is part of Reprieve’s Stand Fast for Justice campaign, which began with a weeklong hunger strike by Reprieve founder and director Clive Stafford Smith, who is also Mr Aamer’s lawyer. He was later joined by Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle, and actress Julie Christie.
David Morgan asks what the Kurdish people have to celebrate on International Human Rights’ Day 2012.
The Kurds constitute one of the world’s largest populations without a nation state of their own. This great injustice is the root cause of the abuses and discrimination to which Kurds are still subjected to at the present day. This occurs despite the fact that the Kurds are one of the oldest peoples of the Middle East and can trace their lineage back thousands of years; the first mention of the existence of Kurds is traced to reference to ‘Karduchoi’ made by the classical Greek historian Xenophon in The Expedition of Cyrus.
Today, the actual size of the Kurdish population is very hard to establish because of the difficult circumstances in which the Kurds find themselves, but the number is usually estimated at approximately 40 million. The majority of the communities of Kurds are distributed unevenly between the four states of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The borders of these contemporary states only came into being following the First World War with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the reshaping of the region by the imperial powers. Britain, France and the US share much of the responsibility for the denial of social, cultural, political and citizenship rights to the Kurds and which is still the condition of existence for the majority of Kurds today. Continue reading “The Kurds and Human Rights”
We, as international lawyers representing the undersigned organisations, were in Silivri (Turkey) to observe the continuation of the trial of our colleagues: 46 Kurdish lawyers and 3 members of their staff.
We summarise our concerns around the following issues;
The first hearing for this trial, which started in July 2012 in Istanbul, was monitored by these international lawyers also.
On the 6th November 2012 we observed the second hearing in Silivri/Istanbul.
The dominant issue for the court, the right to use the Kurdish language in defending the indictment charges was yet again denied. This was despite submissions advanced by the defence lawyers and the proposed new changes in the law by the ministry of justice relating to the use of the mother tongue in the law courts.
The right to use the mother tongue has been a central issue in this trial (as in other KCK trials). Its prohibition has recently led to hundreds of Kurdish prisoners joining unlimited hunger strikes in protest. Several of the hunger strikers have now reached their 58th day and are nearing death. On the 6th November we learnt that the lawyers on trial have also now joined the hunger strikes, as have another one thousand political prisoners. Continue reading “Joint statement by international observers of the lawyers’ KCK trial”
Ceni –Kurdish Women’s Peace Office has released a statement in support of the 400 prisoners in Turkish jails who have committed themselves to a hunger strike, which is reproduced below. You can also read a statement by the BDP on the mass hunger strike and solidarity actions, as well as BDP MP Selma Irmak’s letter in full. Continue reading “CENI Statement: 400 Kurdish Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike”