Jailed HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş ends hunger strike

Jailed HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş ends hunger strike

Jailed HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş ends hunger strike One of the co-chairs of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, ended a hunger strike the same day he started it on March 31. 

Demirtaş and another HDP lawmaker from the eastern province of Hakkari, Abdullah Zeydan, announced that they, as well as other inmates at Edirne Prison, had ended their strikes that they started to draw attention to human rights violations.

 “We are pleased by the fact that the hunger strike that had been continuing since Feb. 27 ended after dialogue with the prison administration and the well-intentioned commitments presented by both sides,” a statement sent by Demirtaş read, adding that they called on the Justice Ministry, prison wardens and General Directorate of Prisons to “take initiatives in order to make inmates end their hunger strikes by engaging in dialogue.”

“We call on the public to remain alert until all hunger strikes come to an end like at Edirne Prison and thank legal and human rights institutions, as well as lawyers, for their immense contributions. We also thank the people for not sparing their support,” the statement read. 

Demirtaş and Zeydan announced on March 30 that they would go on a hunger strike due to the actions of the Edirne prison warden.

“We are going on a hunger strike starting from March 31 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 did not take any well-intentioned step toward ending other inmates’ hunger strikes, which have been going on for days,” Demirtaş said March 30 in a message addressed to the HDP and the public.

After the hunger strike was announced, HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder said on March 31 that he and his fellow deputy Pervin Buldan were scheduled to meet Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on April 3 to convey their concerns over Demirtaş.

Demirtaş previously said the strike aimed to remind the Justice Ministry of its responsibilities. 

“Accepting the Justice Ministry’s insensitivity about the severity of the issues, which are under its responsibility, is impossible for us. We, as deputies, have no demand of our own. We are on a hunger strike to draw attention to the problems in prisons, reminding the Justice Ministry of the responsibilities and to protest arbitrary treatment, especially by the Edirne Prison wardens,” he said March 31.

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).

Meanwhile, banners prepared for the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes that showed Yüksekdağ were removed with police force in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa on the grounds that the HDP co-chair has been convicted of terrorist offenses.