Five people have died to protest the politics of isolation imposed on Mr Öcalan

Five people have died to protest the politics of isolation imposed on Mr Öcalan

The hunger strike that HDP deputy Ms Leyla Güven had initiated to protest the isolation of Mr Abdullah Öcalan at Imrali Island Prison is on day 139th. HDP deputies Dersim Dağ, Tayip Temel and Murat Sarısaç, seven thousand political prisoners in Turkey, and activists and politicians in the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, Wales, Strasbourg, Toronto and other places have joined the strike. Despite the fact that many hunger strikers are in critical stage and their health rapidly deteriorating, Turkish authorities are still silent and indifferent to their demand, which is termination of the unlawful isolation of Mr Öcalan. Unfortunately, this stance of the government has led to irreparable damage. Over the last ten days, five people lost their lives, one in Germany and four in Turkish prisons. We are worried that there may be more deaths in the near future.

On March 16th, Mr Zülküf Gezen (32) took his own life on at Tekirdağ F-Type Prison to protest the isolation of Mr Öcalan. His body was transferred to Diyarbakır at midnight without the knowledge of his family. The police not only forcibly prevented everybody other than four members of Gezen’s family to join the funeral ceremony, but also assaulted HDP deputies, the rest of family members, and other citizens who wanted to join the funeral. On March 22nd, Mr Uğur Şakar, who had set himself on fire in Krefeld, Germany on February 20th to protest the politics of isolation, lost his life. The next day, on March 23rd, Ms Ayten Beçet (24) committed suicide at the Gebze Prison for Women. Turkish authorities abducted her body too and transferred to her hometown Gaziantep to be buried secretly. The police took her father to the cemetery. HDP deputies, other members of Beçet’s family and their relatives wanted to join the funeral, but the police blockaded the house of the family and did not allow anybody to leave the neighborhood. On March 24th, Ms Zehra Sağlam (23) committed suicide at Oltu T Type Closed Prison to protest for the same reason. Sağlam too did not have a proper burial, as the governor of Muş, her hometown, declared the region where her village is located to be a security zone for fifteen days. A couple of family members could join the funeral ceremony. Nobody else was allowed to enter the village to join the funeral or express their condolences, including members of parliament. And on March 25th, Ms Medya Çınar (24) committed suicide at Mardin E Type Prison to protest the politics of isolation. Her body is not delivered to her family and most likely she, too, will not have a proper burial like others.

There is unfortunately no sign that the government will end the unlawful politics of isolation on Mr Öcalan. Besides, Turkish authorities are extending the politics of isolation to the deceased and their families: the deceased are abducted by the police, separated from the society, and buried in secret. Even the majority of family members are not allowed the join the funeral and fulfill their last obligations towards the deceased. Turkish authorities are violating both the universal right to a proper burial and other religious rights and freedoms.

HDP deputy Ms Leyla Guven, who had initiated the hunger strike from within prison, requested political prisoners to end suicides as a form of protest.

Once again we invite the international community to not remain silent and unresponsive to this aggravating situation. Powerful and concerted efforts of the international community may help to restore the law, end the politics of isolation and hunger strikes, and prevent other possible deaths. 

Hişyar Özsoy
Vice Co-chair of the HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
MP for Diyarbakır
26 March 2016