Hunger strikes unacceptable in democracies: Rapporteur

Hunger strikes unacceptable in democracies: Rapporteur

Hunger strikes unacceptable in democracies: Rapporteur

Renowned Kurdish singer Şiwan Perwer (C) stages a one-day hunger strike in Arbil. DHA photo

Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, has harshly criticized the over 700 protesters currently conducting hunger strikes across Turkey, saying their actions are undemocratic.

“[Conducting a] hunger strike is an unacceptable method in a democracy. If you have an aim, you should get involved in politics and try to convince people. If you conduct a hunger strike for something today, you’ll do the same for something else tomorrow. This is unacceptable. There’s no place for oppression and force in democracies. I demand officials prevent any possible deaths from happening,” Oomen-Ruijten was quoted as saying on Nov. 16 by daily Hürriyet, at a meeting organized by the German Marshall Fund and the International Strategic Research Institution (USAK) in Ankara.

The protesters are demanding an end to the isolation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, as well as an end to restrictions on the use of mother tongues other than Turkish in courts and education.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Kastamonu, President Abdullah Gül reiterated Nov. 16 his discontent over politicians’ participation in the ongoing hunger strikes, stressing that the government – particularly the justice minister – had been taking steps to solve the issue.

In Arbil, renowned Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer began a one-day hunger strike on Nov. 16 in a show of support with the hunger strikers in Turkey.

Hüseyin Çelik, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson said in a televised interview on Nov. 16 that the conditions in which a state should intervene in hunger strikes are determined in the Declaration of Malta, Çelik said, adding that the lawyers of Abdullah Öcalan had previously worked as “couriers” taking messages from him to the PKK, rather than lawyers. “Do not make political maneuvers over the lives of people,” he said to hunger strikers.