On May 26th, 2019, Leyla Güven, the political prisoners, and countless hunger strikers in Southern and Northern Kurdistan, France, Germany, Wales, Canada, the Netherlands, England and Italy ended their indefinite hunger strikes and death fasts. On the basis of the victory of the hunger strike action, they declared that they would continue and strengthen their fight against the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan by different means from now on.
The then imprisoned Kurdish parliamentarian Leyla Güven had gone on indefinite hunger strike on November 8th, 2018 to break the isolation of the Kurdish representative Abdullah Öcalan and thus create the basis for a political solution to the Kurdish question. Shortly after, more and more activists and politicians joined the hunger strike. On March 1, about 7.000 political prisoners went on hunger strike. On April 30th, a group of 15 political prisoners collectively started a death fast. Another group of 15 prisoners started a second death fast shortly after. The demands of the hunger strikers were supported by politicians, activists and intellectuals around the world.
The organized resistance and the international attention led to Mehmet Öcalan being able to secure a 15-minute meeting with his brother Abdullah Öcalan on January 12th. Due to the same reasons, Leyla Güven was released from her illegal detention on January 24th. After the lifting of the illegal ban on the lawyer visits on Imrali, two lawyers were able to visit Abdullah Öcalan on May 2nd after 8 years. In his statement publicized by the lawyers, Abdullah Öcalan – once again – called for a deep reconciliation of the peoples in Turkey. On May 21st, the lawyers were able to visit Imrali again. With that, as the Turkish government implemented one of the main demands of the resistance, the hunger strikers ended their action. Abdullah Öcalan declared in his second meeting with his lawyers once again that the societies of Turkey are in urgent need of a debate over democratic politics, negotiations and an honourable peace. He reiterated his willingness to play his role in this regard and reminded the public of the atmosphere of hope that captivated the societies of Turkey in 2013.
We congratulate Leyla Güven and the hunger strikers, the Peace Mothers, the mothers of the hunger strikers, the political prisoners and women around the world for this historic victory. They have enabled once again an atmosphere of hope with their resistance against fascism in Turkey through an unbreakable solidarity between women.
At the same time, we condemn the state representatives of the EU and in particular Germany, who seemingly fail to take a stance against the overt fascism within Turkey, due to their national and economic interests. While the likes of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, portray themselves as defenders of women’s rights on international platforms, they simultaneously court a fascist-conservative regime that refuses to have anything to do with women’s rights. A regime that actively supported the so-called Islamic State, which declared women as spoils of war to rape, enslave and sell them. A regime whose intelligence service ordered the murder of Kurdish women’s activists in the middle of Paris. A regime that defines women as birthing machines and unpaid domestic workers and which bans active women’s organizations by decree.
Likewise, we condemn established aid organizations such as Amnesty International, who gave a hunger strike such as that of a Kurdish parliamentarian and thousands of political prisoners so little importance, that it did not manage to gather “independent information” about the situation, even after six months, as it said it would after direct actions by Kurdish activists, thus finding excuses for its clearly strategic inaction. Clearly, Amnesty International prioritized its own interests over the collective struggle for democracy or the upholding of basic human rights.
With organized effort, Leyla Güven, the hunger strikers and their relatives, above all the Peace Mothers, as well as activists in solidarity with the action managed what nobody thought possible in the current political climate: at a time in which nation-statist politics seems to only speak of war, nuclear agreements and seemingly inevitable increases of military expenses, all of which will only result in ever more escalation and repression, the hunger strikers clung onto their wish for peace. They thus put peace and the possibility of finding political solutions to conflicts back on the agenda. In a situation in which the representatives of the EU, especially Germany, as well as established aid and human rights organizations remain strategically inactive for their short-term interests, the activists showed willpower and ability to act. They showed that women are not dependent on the goodwill of patriarchal, capitalist and nationalist policies, but can – with courage, determination and organized power – indeed change the world!
In this sense, we salute all the women, who reject the current political system of war and encourage them to join us in celebrating and increasing this victory. Let us continue our struggle for a just, peaceful, diverse, women’s liberationist, ecological world with even greater determination, love, courage and hope!
Cenî Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace