Euro MPs warn on strikes

Euro MPs warn on strikes

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Euro MPs warn on strikes

A group of students at Hakkari University stage a protest in support of the hunger strikers. Some 700 inmates are staging hunger strikes in 67 prisons, demanding an end to the isolation of Öcalan. DHA photo

Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have urged the Turkish government to show more sensibility in handling the ongoing hunger strikes in several of Turkey’s prisons as the protest reaches its 57th day yesterday.

“We believe that recognition of the justified Kurdish demands by the Turkish authorities could be constructive in efforts to calm the situation. It could also help open democratic dialogue to end the violence, isolate the terrorists of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK and to find political solutions to the Kurdish problem,” Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament said in a written statement released yesterday.

Some 700 inmates are staging hunger strikes in Turkey’s 67 prisons, demanding an end to the isolation of convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea.

The protestors, most of whom are detained due to alleged links with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), also demand restrictions on the use of their mother tongue in courts be lifted and education in one’s mother tongue. Öcalan’s lawyers have not been allowed on İmralı Island for the last 15 months.

Problems in EU relations

“The Turkish authorities’ indifference to this ongoing suffering seems inhumane to us and to European opinion in general, and could create problems for EU-Turkish relations,” Swoboda said.

Referring to a report from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Swoboda said the health of the strikers is seriously deteriorating day by day. “We invite the Turkish prime minister to show more sensibility on this human issue, especially for those who have demonstrated their political opposition in a peaceful way,” he said.

Health Minister Recep Akdağ, meanwhile said that no hunger striker was in critical medical condition as of Nov. 7.

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), who has urged the government to take rapid and practical steps to meet the demands of hunger strikers, held its Central Executive Board meeting yesterday in Diyarbakır. The meeting was still under way when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.

Inmates staging hunger strike will decide whether to continue or end their strikes according to the steps the government will take, BDP lawmaker Ertuğrul Kürkçü said yesterday. “There’s no concrete government statement that will change the situation categorically. The BDP lawmakers will not take a decision to continue or end the hunger strikes. It is up to inmates behind bars,” he said.