Urgent call for strengthening international solidarity with Leyla Güven

The call letter by our vice co chair Mr. Hişyar Özsoy to the parliamentarians and political parties across the world for solidarity with Ms. Leyla Güven who is on the 113rd day of her hunger strike to protest the isolation of Mr. Abdullah Öcalan.

After almost one-year pretrial detention, HDP MP Ms. Leyla Güven was released on 25 January 2019, on the 79th day of the hunger strike that she had started in protest of the absolute isolation of Mr. Abdullah Öcalan at the İmralı Island Prison. After her release Leyla said that she would not end her hunger strike until her demand was met. She basically demands Turkish authorities to implement the CPT recommendations on the issue (endorsed in a recent resolution of the PACE on the situation of politicians in Turkey) and allow Mr Öcalan’s family members and lawyers to regularly visit him in prison.

At least 313 prisoners and several politicians have joined the hunger strike across Turkish prisons and abroad. 14 Kurdish politicians and activists, including a former HDP MP, have been on hunger strike in Strasbourg since 17 December 2018. Ms Sebahat Tuncel, co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP), and Ms Selma Irmak, former HDP MP and co-chair of the banned Democratic Society Party (DTP), also joined the hunger strike on 15 January 2018 from Kandira High Security Prison. All of the 46 prisoners who joined the hunger strike on 16 December 2018 are in critical condition. All of them have received disciplinary punishments or investigations for their strike and many of them are kept in solitary confinement. The hunger strikers in prisons are usually denied B1 vitamins and carbonate that they need to take on a daily basis. Lawyers, family members and human rights organizations have also reported torture and mistreatment of the hunger strikers.

On March 1st Leyla’s hunger strike will reach 114 days. Although her health is in critical condition, she refuses medical treatment. Despite the sheer unlawfulness of the policy of isolation, most of the international community has chosen to remain blind and deaf to Leyla’s protest. Isolation of Mr Öcalan or any other prisoner from their lawyers and family members is both unlawful and politically wrong. The termination of this isolation will not only end the hunger strikes and return Leyla and others to life; but may also help to reinitiate democratic dialogue and resume the peace process in the context of the Kurdish issue.

We hereby call upon political leaders and parliamentarians, especially the women, to urgently organize visits to Leyla Güven towards strengthening international solidarity on the issue.

Peace and solidarity,

Hişyar Özsoy
Vice co-chair of the HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
MP for Diyarbakır
28 February 2019