Uğur Şakar who set his body on fire to protest the isolation of Öcalan commemorated

Uğur Şakar, who set his body on fire in front of the Krefeld Court in 2019 in protest at the total isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, was commemorated at the scene of his action.

43-year-old Uğur Şakar set himself on fire in front of the courthouse in Krefeld, Germany on 20 February 2019 to protest the Turkish state’s isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in the Imrali Island Prison in the Sea of Marmara.

64% of Şakar’s body was covered in burns, and he lost his life on 22 March in the hospital in Duisburg where he had been receiving treatment.

Kurdish activists gathered at the scene of the action and paid tribute to Şakar on Tuesday. During the commemoration, the letter left behind by the Uğur Şakar regarding his action was read.

Following the commemoration, Huseyin Perk, Co-Chair of the Martyr Uğur Initiative, and Şevin Sinçer, Co-Chair of FED-MED, made a speech and called for participation in the commemoration to be held in Neuss Neufriedhof cemetery, where Uğur Şakar's grave is located, on the anniversary of his martyrdom.

Şakar’s action came during the continued mass hunger strike launched in Turkish prisons in November 2018. The hunger strike initiated by the Kurdish politician Leyla Güven to end the years-long total isolation of Abdullah Öcalan was joined by hundreds of prisoners in the following weeks and months. Activists with the same demand went on a hunger strike also in Strasbourg, Toronto, Newport, Kassel, Nuremberg, Duisburg, Erbil and other cities.

In a handwritten letter before his action, Şakar designated the motive for his self-immolation as his protest against German police violence and repression against the Kurdish movement. He also refused to accept the silence of the public regarding the Kurdish hunger strike campaign.

Şakar saluted the hunger strikes and wrote, “The PKK has taught us the philosophy that ‘resistance is life’. It is our duty to resist injustice, wherever we are.”

Şakar criticized the silence of European countries and protested the Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s (CPT) silence in the face of the hunger strikes.

Sakar concluded his letter with: “I condemn the German state’s police brutality and political pressure agains Kurds. I invite each and every Kurd to fight for a free life, rather than living as a slave. We will prevail. Let us, as a people, gather around the friends who gathered for the Leader in their hunger strikes.”