Angela Davis: Turkey, Free Leyla Guven, Hunger Striker

Angela Davis, an activist and professor, who was part of a hunger strike in 1970 to protest prison conditions when she was in prison wrote a letter to the New York Times about Leyla Güven's ongoing hunger strike. The letter reads:

Leyla Guven, a deputy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey, hasbeen on an indefinite hunger strike for the last two months. Having dedicated her political efforts over the years to the struggle against the Turkish state’s illegal military invasions and occupations of Kurdish regions and against Turkey’s continuing human rights abuses, she now offers her life in protest of the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and other Kurdish political prisoners.

Ms. Guven is a major inspiration to people throughout the world who believe in peace, justice and liberation. I join all those who support her and stand in condemnation of the repressive conditions of Mr. Ocalan’s imprisonment.

Like Ms. Guven, thousands of leaders and representatives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the Democratic Regions Party are behind bars. Thelargest umbrella women’s movement of Turkey, the Free Women’s Congress, founded in Kurdistan, was forcibly dissolved and many of its activists have been imprisoned. And those who have spoken out against the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Kurdish people by the Turkish Army since the breakdown of the peace process in 2015 have been criminalized in multiple ways.

Those of us here in the United States who have protested the expansion of the prison-industrial complex have been emboldened over the years by the courageous actions of Kurdish political prisoners — especially by the women who have resisted American-type prisons in Turkey.

We should now follow the example and leadership of Ms. Guven in protesting the isolation of Mr. Ocalan, who is recognized as the chief negotiator representing the Kurds in the peace talks with Turkey, and who has declared that the fight for women’s equality is central to the revolutionary process. As other imprisoned political figures have been released upon election to Parliament, so, too, should Ms. Guven be freed.

Angela Y. Davis,Oakland, California
17 January 2019