Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş announces hunger strike with HDP MP

Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş announces hunger strike with HDP MP

Rifat Başaran - EDİRNE
Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş announces hunger strike with HDP MP Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed co-chair of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), will start a hunger strike on March 31 to protest “inhumane treatment,” along with jailed HDP deputy Abdullah Zeydan.  

Last week, HDP Siirt deputy Besime Konca started a hunger strike in the Kandıra Prison. 

Demirtaş and Zeydan, who are both jailed in the northwestern province of Edirne, said they would go on hunger strike due to the actions of the Edirne prison warden.

“We are going on a hunger strike starting from Friday due to the warden’s refusal to engage in dialogue, his practices outside the boundaries of law, his inhumane treatment of other inmates, and the fact that he didn’t take any well-intentioned step towards ending other inmates’ hunger strikes, which have been going on for days,” Demirtaş said on March 30, in a message addressed to the HDP and the public.

“We invite the public to be sensitive regarding the ongoing hunger strikes and rights violations in prisons,” he added. 

A hunger strike had also been launched on Feb. 15 in the prisons in Edirne, Şakran in the western province of İzmir, the northwestern province of Tekirdağ, and Sincan in Ankara in protest at “rights violations in prisons.”
A total of 13 lawmakers from the HDP, including its co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are currently in jail facing hundreds of years in jail over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Speaking about the prison conditions, the HDP’s prison commission spokesperson, Burcu Çelik, said “there are inmates who are subjected to violence.”

“We cannot obtain solid information because HDP lawmakers are not allowed into prisons to inspect. So hunger strikes may have started in jails that we don’t even know about,” Çelik told daily Hürriyet on March 30.

She added that the only reason for the strike is that prison conditions have “gone far away from human rights standards” after the declaration of the state of emergency in July 2016. 

“The only reason for the strikes is that prison conditions have gone far away from human rights standards.

 Administrators are taking arbitrary attitudes and abusing their authority via state of emergency decrees, ending inmates’ conversation rights, limiting their visitation rights, and subjecting inmates to violence after the state of emergency was declared,” Çelik said. 

Meanwhile, jailed Democratic Regions Party (DBP) co-chair Sebahat Tuncel has also announced that she will start a five-day hunger strike on April 1. 

There are thought to be 66 convicts and prisoners, mostly HDP members, currently continuing hunger strikes in Turkish jails.