Dundee Trades Council supports Kurdish hunger strikers

A statement of support with the hunger strikers was agreed at the Dundee Trades Council meeting.

A statement of support with the hunger strikers was introduced to a meeting of the Dundee Trades Council by Sarah Glynn from Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, who recently visited the hunger strikers in Strasbourg. (read ANF interview with Sarah Glynn here )

After the meeting, members and friends posed for a photograph with a Freedom for Öcalan flag, taking up the message of the international struggle supported by last year’s Durham Miners Gala.

The following statement was agreed at the Dundee Trades Council meeting:

“This open meeting of Dundee Trades Union Council and friends sends support to the Kurdish hunger strikers and their call for an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.

We understand that such isolation is deemed a form of torture and that it is outlawed by international law. We call on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture to carry out its fundamental duty and visit Öcalan in prison, and for our elected representatives to do all in their power to see that pressure is put on Turkey to comply with human rights legislation.

Furthermore, we recognise the respect with which Öcalan is held by millions of Kurds who regard him as their leader; the hugely progressive impact of his ideas on women’s rights, democracy, and multi-ethnic society; and the vital role that he can (and wants to) play in negotiating a peaceful settlement between the Kurds and the Turkish Government.”

This statement of support will be sent to Leyla Guven in Turkey (on hunger strike since 7 November), the 14 hunger strikers in Strasbourg (on hunger strike since 17 December, Imam Sis in Newport, Wales (on hunger strike since 17 December),

Peace in Kurdistan in London.


Sarah Glynn explained: “The hunger strikers have one, simple, demand: that the Turkish Government complies with their own constitution and international conventions on human rights and ends the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan.”

The first hunger striker was Leyla Guven, a Kurdish MP and political prisoner in Turkey, but there are now over 250 people on indefinite hunger strike in Turkish jails, and across the world. A hunger strike is an action of last resort, only taken when the world refuses to listen.

Öcalan is recognised as their leader by millions of Kurds, and you don’t have to be Kurdish to recognise the huge impact of his ideas in bringing democratic practices to Northern Syria, building bridges between different ethnic groups and – especially – ensuring women can take a full part in society. In the last two decades Öcalan has made repeated attempts to negotiate a peaceful and respectful future for the Kurds in Turkey, and the respect that he himself commands makes his role vital to any peace settlement between the Kurds and the Turkish Government.

But Öcalan is being denied all visits and cannot even see his lawyer or members of his family. “This isolation - said Glynn - is recognised in law as a form of torture. In response to the hunger strikes, the Turkish Government allowed Öcalan’s brother to visit him for 10 minutes. It was hugely reassuring to know he is in good health, but this short visit does not meet the basic human rights demand, and the strikes go on.”