MEPs and lawyers from Europe denied meeting with Leyla Güven

A foreign delegation, including European Parliament deputies, is in Amed to express their support to DTK co-chair Leyla Güven.

DTK co-chair and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Hakkari MP Leyla Güven is on hunger strike for 68 days in Amed prison to demand the end of the isolation imposed on Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Sinn Fein and Labour party MEPs Martina Anderson and Julia Ward are part of the delegation which includes also human rights defender Wendy Lyon of Ireland, UK human rights lawyer Margaret Owen and Italian lawyer Simonetta Rosella Benedetti.

Anderson MEP: Short visit to Imrali not an answer to hunger strike

The delegation held a press conference at the Amed Bar Association on Sunday.

Sinn Fein MEP, Martina Anderson said: “I’d like to tell you my feelings after 48 hours in this city. Leyla Güven is a democratically elected politician. She is 55 years old and has been on hunger strike for 67 days.

Last night, - added Anderson - we thought there might be a glimmer of a light about his situation. Leyla Güven is on hunger strike demanding the removal of the isolation imposed on Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is detained in Imrali Island.”

Anderson added: “We know that Abdullah Öcalan has not been able to meet with his family for 2 and a half years, since 2016. In addition, he hasn’t been allowed to meet with his lawyers since 2011. We learned that on Saturday he was allowed a visit [with his brother] of just 15 minutes. We had the impression that Saturday's visit was not a development that could be considered as meeting the demands of the people on hunger strikes. Because the hunger strike prisoners demand the complete abolition of isolation policy.”

Anderson continued: “During the hunger strikes in 2016, a short visit was also allowed but the policies of isolation soon returned. The hunger strikers are asking to avoid any 2016-like tactic be carried out again.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson then spoke on behalf of the Irish, Italian, British members of this delegation: “We call on Turkey to end isolation and go back to the peace process. Turkey's government should put an end to torture in prisons, to repressive policies and to isolation. The only thing Kurds in Turkey are demanding is the right to live in peace.”

MEP Ward: We won’t remain silent

For MEP Julia Ward this is the third visit to Turkey, and, she said, every time she came the situation of human rights had gone worse.

Ward said: “In Turkey elected MPs, lawyers, activists, trade unionists, everyone who dissents, gets its share of repression. Today we met with the Peace Mothers and felt the pain of their loss deeply in our hearts. The mothers continue to look for the remains of their children to have a grave to go to and be able to mourn for them. They want to continue their culture and language and for this they are suffering from repression. Before we came here, we initiated the necessary procedures to meet with Leyla Güven through the authorities in our countries. But today [Sunday] we were not allowed to meet her. As well as not being allowed to meet her, we were assaulted by the police who surrounded us. We're not young women, nor are we very strong. We certainly do not accept that they put their police officers against us. We, as elected deputies and lawyers, demand that such proceedings be terminated. We will tell the European Parliament about what happened to us here, the force used against us.

We will tell Italy, England and Ireland. Because this treatment we suffered is a symbol of how freedom of expression has been buried deep.”

Addressing Turkey’s authorities, Ward said: “I want to remind you again, you can't shut us up. Maybe you can repress us, but you can't shut us up. We will do our best to tell everyone what happened here.”

Owen: Summer does not come with a single sunny day

Human rights lawyer Margaret Owen, from Britain, drew attention to the hatred she saw in the eyes of the policemen. “I have been coming to Turkey for years, as an observer to hearings, elections, events. But I've never been so worried. Because Leyla Güven and 256 political prisoners are now on a hunger strike. And they have reached the threshold of death.”

Referring to the way police treated the delegation, Owen said: “I felt the fear of being crushed by the police for the first time. And I saw the hatred in the eyes of these young policemen. I've seen people who have been policemen for fear of being unemployed. And I've seen these young people used as a tool of violence.”

Owen had this to say about Saturday’s visit to Öcalan, by his brother Mehmet: “Summer does not come with a single sunny day. I mean to say that isolation does not end with a visit.

We will continue to work as deputies, activists and lawyers here in Turkey with those defending an independent judiciary, independent media and independent organizations.

It looks like we are seeing the dark side of the moon in Turkey. But we will do what is in our hands to put an end to this darkness and we’ll continue to come to Turkey.”