CHP leader urges end to hunger strikes

CHP leader urges end to hunger strikes

DİYARBAKIR - Doğan News Agency
CHP leader urges end to hunger strikes

Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir (L) presents CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu a Kurdish-Turkish dictionary.

Turkey’s main opposition leader used a holiday visit to Diyarbakır on Oct. 26 to implore scores of inmates staging a hunger strike to abandon their action while calling on the government to be sensitive to their demands.

“I request that the strikers put an end to their actions, and I would consider myself very happy if they positively reply to this request,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said during his visit to the southeastern province.

But people should sit up and take notice if a person is inflicting pain on his own body, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “A convict’s life should be under the guarantee of state authority and there is nothing dearer than human life. Perhaps, they consider this as a means to get their voice heard. Peace means listening to others and being able to express one’s thoughts. I am asking the party in power to be more sensitive to these people’s requests.”

Kılıçdaroğlu visited Diyarbakır Metropolitan Mayor Osman Baydemir together with deputy CHP leaders Gürsel Tekin and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, as well as a delegation of party members.

A number of inmates began their hunger strike on Sept. 12 to demand an end to the isolation of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, as well as the right to use Kurdish in legal defenses and in other public areas. Many more inmates, including two senior Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) politicians in jail, have since joined the hunger strike.

Also speaking at the meeting, Baydemir said the hunger strikes were being conducted in 58 jails throughout the country, adding that the problems needed to be solved through dialogue, negotiation and by finding a common denominator.

“We are all guilty for what has been happening,” he said.

Baydemir said he thought Kılıçdaroğlu’s visit to Diyarbakır marked a historical turn, adding that he hoped it would mark the beginning of a new page in favor of the people of Turkey.

“Politics cannot contain blood feuds. And I hope all parties, those in power, the opposition, the Turks, and the Kurds uniformly desire to turn the page for better days. Mothers and fathers need to be promised that they will no longer have to give away their sons and daughters,” the mayor said.

At the end of the visit, Baydemir gave a Kurdish dictionary to Kılıçdaroğlu for the CHP’s headquarters in Ankara, saying: “We know that you speak Kurdish. If you allow it, I want to give this as a present for you.”
The CHP leader said the peoples of Turkey were very well connected to each other and that those trying to divide them would fail to do so. Underlining that he was against incarcerating mayors and deputies elected by voters, he said those who were brought to power could only be punished by their voters.

“If we politicians can get together, so will the people. Our road map may be incorrect or lacking. If you say so, come together with us and let’s make the road map together. But all the political problems need to be addressed in Parliament,” he said.