“I am sitting here. Numb. Dizzy. Beheaded. Without any arms or legs. Without any eyesight. More a concrete flower than a human. Living against all odds.
Yet I see more clearly than you, who are whole. Who can walk wherever and say whatever.
I feel more vividly the pain of others and I inflict them upon myself to be able to help out. How can I help out if I do not feel their agony, if I cannot hear their pleas?
I am numb as it has continued for centuries and I can only take so much pain and sorrow. The humming of the bees is drowned out to the violent humming of warplanes and drones.
I try to mask them and only hear the music in my heart, but as the cries from those who struggle gets louder, they add the lyrics to my heartfelt music.
I am dizzy, as so many roads have been shut for me in the past. So many borders have been set up where there were none before. So many villages burnt, the smoke fills my lungs and clouds my eyes. Blinding me.
I am without arms and legs as I am not a whole. I have been divided. Cut. The sharp rulers of despots past have set the lines, which I am not allowed to cross. I am without arms and legs.
I am beheaded, as I do not know where to look. Only cure is a joint action by my partitions to join each other and together look for one.
If I have managed to come this far beheaded, arm- and leg-less, imagine what I can achieve if whole!
The music of the past guides my way, puts the notes on my sheet and tells me what to expect next. I just need to read them.
The single words coming in the past started a song I wish to see finished. The past 63 days these single words have turned into lyrics. Into music I can understand.
I can feel it. I can feel their pain. Their hunger. Their determination. I can see the words turning into lyrics on my note sheet.
I can see them but you cannot.
To see them neither, head arms or legs are necessary.
You need an open mind. Filled with the music of your heart, music of the past and the lyrics of the present.
An open mind only a flower nurtured from concrete can have.”
UA: 329/12 Index: EUR 44/022/2012 Turkey Date: 9 November 2012
HUNGER STRIKERS DENIED MEDICAL CARE
Hundreds are on hunger strike (some of them since 12 September) in prisons across Turkey. Lawyers told Amnesty International that prison authorities have denied many hunger strikers access to medical care, further threatening their health.
On 12 September, around 60 prisoners began a hunger strike in seven prisons across Turkey. The hunger strikes were initiated as a protest against the authorities’ longstanding refusal to allow Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to meet with his lawyers and to demand the provision of education in the Kurdish language. Since September, the number of hunger strikes has grown. According to the Ministry of Justice, 682 prisoners in 67 prisons had joined the hunger strike by 2 November.
Lawyers representing the hunger strikers told Amnesty International that prison doctors are routinely refusing to conduct medical examinations of the hunger strikers, including checking the prisoners’ blood pressure. Lawyers also said that in some cases, hunger strikers are being denied access to vital vitamins taken to the prison by the lawyers. One prisoner on hunger strike in Sincan F-type prison was allegedly made to travel 36 hours for a court hearing, despite severe mobility problems and a doctor’s report advising against the travel.
There are further concerns regarding reports that prisoners on hunger strike in Silivri and Şakran prisons have been placed in solitary confinement, and guards at Tekirdağ prison were ill-treating prisoners as a result of their participation in the hunger strike protests.
Please write immediately in Turkish or your own language:
- Reminding the authorities that hunger strikers are engaging in a peaceful form of protest and the Turkish authorities have an obligation to respect their right to freedom of expression, including their right to protest; Calling on the authorities to ensure that the hunger strikers have adequate access to qualified medical professionals and any medical assessment, advice and any treatment that they will accept voluntarily based on this assessment, and to ensure that there is no unjustifiable restriction on hunger striking prisoners from receiving vitamins provided by their lawyers or family members;
- Calling on the authorities to ensure that no punitive measures are taken against prisoners on hunger strike and the absolute prohibition of torture and other forms of ill-treatment is upheld; and to institute a prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into allegations that prisoners in Silivri, Şakran and Tekirdağ prison were ill- treated or otherwise punished for their participation in the hunger strikes.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 21 DECEMBER 2012 TO:
Ministry of Justice Sadullah Ergin Adalet Bakanı Adalet Bakanlığı 06659 Ankara, Turkey Fax: +90 312 417 71 13 (keep trying) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Salutation: Dear Minister
Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights Ayhan Sefer Üstün Commission Chairperson
TBMM İnsan Hakları İnceleme Komisyonu Bakanlıklar, 06543 Ankara, Turkey Fax: +90 312 420 53 94
Salutation: Dear Mr Üstün
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
HUNGER STRIKERS DENIED MEDICAL CARE
In Turkey, prison hunger strikes have been repeatedly used as a method of protest. On 20 October 2000, more than 1,200 prisoners went on hunger strike; this was in protest at plans to move them to new prisons where they were to be housed in small cells, rather than dormitories that hold up to 60 prisoners. Prisoners were concerned that they would be at greater risk of assault or torture. When raids began on 19 December, some 200 were still on hunger strike and many of them were reportedly close to death. Turkish authorities intervened by force to end the hunger strikes with the operation they termed “return to life”. This operation led to the deaths of 30 prisoners and two soldiers during raids into 20 prisons. The Justice Minister reportedly stated that “at least 16 prisoners died, most of whom set themselves on fire”. He did not say how the other prisoners had died.
Hunger strikes continued in the following two years, claiming the lives of dozens of people – some of whom were not prisoners.
Amnesty International does not support hunger strikes, nor does it try to persuade hunger strikers to end such a protest. The organization opposes any punishment of hunger strikers and attempts to coerce them to end their hunger strike. Such measures violate their right to freedom of expression, and may also amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The authorities have an obligation to ensure prisoners’ right to life and health and must ensure that hunger strikers, like other prisoners, have adequate access to qualified health professionals and any medical assessment, advice and any treatment that they will accept voluntarily based on this assessment.
Name: Almost 700 prisoners on hunger strike in Turkey Gender m/f: both
UA: 329/12 Index: EUR 44/022/2012 Issue Date: 9 November 2012
URGENT CALL TO INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION FOR SOLIDARITY WITH HUNGER STRIKERS
Today, it has been 53 days since Kurdish political prisoners in the Turkish prisons began indefinite hunger strikes on September 12, 2012. At this moment, health status of prisoners on hunger strike is severely impaired and came to a very critical stage. This announcement is prepared in order to inform international public opinion that we are extremely concerned that loss of life may be imminent and ask your solidarity to prevent it.
On September 12, 2012; 64 Kurdish political prisoners have started an indefinite and irreversible hunger strike in 7 Prisons in Turkey.
On 22 September 2012, ten days later 79 more prisoners joined the hunger strike. With new participants these numbers have been continuously increasing. According to joint research of Human Rights Association, Progressive Lawyers Association and Law & Human Rights Commission of Peace and Democracy Party, at least 654 Kurdish political prisoners and convicts in prisons are on an indefinite and irreversible hunger strike in 66 prisons. Imprisoned members of parliament, Mr. Faysal Sarıyıldız, Ms. Gülser Yıldırım and Ms. Selma Irmak and Mayor of Derik, Ms. Çağlar Demirel are also participating to the indefinite hunger strike.
Specifically, the health status of 154 political prisoners that began the hunger strike with the first two groups is severely impaired and their life is under extreme danger and at great vital risk.
In a press release to the public, political prisoners on a hunger strike have made two specific demands and stated that they will not reverse their decision unless their demands are meet. These demands are:
1- The right to education and legal defense in mother tongue.
2- Ending the isolation of Mr. Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali prison in order to creating the conditions for dialogue and negotiation.
According to the above mentioned demands, reason of the hunger strike is not for individual interest or awful conditions of the prisons in Turkey. Political prisoners believe that their existence in prisons is directly related with the conflicts between the Turkish Government and Kurdish political movement. Therefore, the prisoners and arrested politicians are considering themselves as “prisoner of war” or POW. The existing judicial system, the anti-terror law that amended in 2006 and security oriented governing are created a total war against Kurds’ fundamental rights. Freedom of speech, right to demonstration and demanding collective rights of the people perceived as “terrorist activity” by the prosecutors and the government as well. The existing Anti-terror law allows prosecutors to arrest everyone without concrete evidence. Therefore, more than 8000 Kurdish politicians, journalists, advocates, trade unionists and NGO members have been in prisons for many years without any verdict by judges. Many of the participants of the hunger strike are victims of the existing law system. Their legal defenses in mother tongue are not provided due to the monist mentality. This situation is one of the reasons of the hunger strike.
Unfortunately, AKP Government has not any sensitivity or attention to the ongoing hunger strike. Prime Minister Erdoğan clearly lied when he was in Germany. According to Erdoğan, only one prisoner is continuing to the hunger strike. At the same time Minister of Justice announced that 683 prisoners and arrested people are in hunger strike. It is very tragic that, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice are not from different countries. But their speeches are totally different. Unfortunately, PM Erdoğan is not focusing on solving the issue. The main approach of the government is disinforming the hunger strike.
On the other hand, while the people who protest the government because of its insensitivity, AKP Government and its police forces are continuing arrest BDP members and protestors. Yesterday, 97 students were taken custody during the protests in order to prevent democratic opposition. Today, 20 people from BDP, press and NGOs are take in custody by the police raids in Mersin. We believe that, the reason of the ongoing arrests is to prevent solidarity with the hunger strikers.
Therefore, we as BDP, call government to stop accusing BDP or hunger strikers. Government must respect to the Kurdish prisoners demands. The demands are fundamental rights of humanity. Therefore, PM Erdoğan must end this meaningless obstinacy. In case of insist to this negative manner, AKP Government will be main responsible of the closing tragedy.
No time to wait! Everyone from the earth should react to the AKP Government’s totalitarian approach on Kurdish People and their fundamental rights. No state or power can prevent a human’s freedom of speech or defense in mother tongue in democratic countries. No one should live without collective identity in their home country.
BDP urgently calls to government, international public opinion and institutions to prevent losing lives in prisons.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMISSION OF PEACE AND DEMOCRACY PARTY
Events on Hunger Strikes
1. Prisoners who are on indefinite hunger strike since September 12 in Siirt E Type Closed Prison have learned aggravate health problems. İHD (HRA) lawyers Roja Arslan and Yavuz Çelepkolu who met with the prisoners on hunger strike in prison, said hunger-striking prisoners does not accept liquid.
2. Rıza Turan who is in Siirt E Type Prison has loss of sight and also director of prison didn’t deliver blanket which is given to him by his family.
3. Eleven women prisoners who are started the hunger strike in Diyarbakır E Type Prison some findings on their health status; weakness, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to sound and noise, irregular blood pressure, excessive weight loss and nose bleeds
4. Four prisoners who are in Şakran T type Prison No 4 were single cells and a place to sleep, clothes, pen and paper to tell their status are not given.
5. Although Berivan Elter who is in hunger strike has health report, a new report was taken and she pick up from Ankara to Diyarbakır ( round trip 36 hours)
6. B1 Vitamin is not given any prisoners in Adana F type Prison
From AlJazeera’s ‘The Stream’ on Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Please urge all concerned to contact all appropriate media outlets and use all their contacts to spread the below brief in order to draw international and local media attention to the ongoing human tragedy with the prisoners on hunger strike in Turkey:
I am writing to inform you about an international petition campaign launched in with regards to the hunger strike protest that has been carried out by Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey since September 12, 2012. The petition emphasizes the imminence of a human tragedy, given that the strike is as of today on its 49th day, and calls on the Turkish state to urgently address the prisoners’ demands. A brief bulletin about the contents and participants of the petition is below.
Thank you for your consideration.
An international group of social scientists with research interests in the Kurdish issue launched a petition campaign calling on the Turkish government to address the demands of the Kurdish political prisoners whose hunger strike protests have entered a critical phase.
Over 700 Kurdish prisoners are on the 49th day of a hunger strike as of October 30, 2012, for the right to defense in their mother tongue and the ending of solitary confinement of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s imprisoned leader. Medical experts confirm that the 40th day is a threshold in hunger strikes where physical and mental dysfunctions commence, as well as cases of death begin to occur.
Petitioners declare their full support to the Kurdish political prisoners’ demands, which, they believe, are among fundamental human rights. The petition emphasizes that the international community’s opinion on Turkey will be strongly shaped by the way the present hunger strikes are handled and reminds the addressees, including the President, Prime Minister and Justice Minister of Turkey, that they will be personally responsible should this protest end in a human tragedy. Recalling the devastating cost of the prison operations of the year 2000, the petitioners warn the Turkish government that any attempt at forceful intervention would cause irreparable harm and destroy the already dim democratic ground for a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue.
The petition has received great interest and support from academic circles around the world, reaching over one thousand signatures on its first day. Some internationally renowned social scientists sent support messages to the campaign. Professor Michael Taussig of Columbia University, an international authority in anthropology, signed the petition with the following note: ‘To the Turkish State: please attend immediately to the welfare of these courageous prisoners’. The preeminent feminist theorist Professor Judith Butler of University of California, Berkeley, wrote: “Turkish government must enter into serious dialogue with these prisoners, who now risk their lives to expose the injustice under which they live.” And Noam Chomsky stated: “Elementary humanity requires that the just and desperate plea of these prisoners for dialogue should be answered quickly and appropriately, without delay.”
The campaign initiators state that they were inspired by Turkey’s great novelist Yasar Kemal’s recent statement on hunger strikes: ‘Watching death is ill-suited to humanity’. The petition can be reached online at the link below:
The list of Initiators
Can Ağar, Translator, İstanbul, Turkey
Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya, Ghent University, Belgium
Emek Alici, University of London, UK
Ahmet Alış, Bogaziçi University, Turkey
Seda Altug, Bogazici University, Turkey
Shiler Amini, University of Exeter, UK
Mizgin Müjde Arslan, Bahçeşehir University, Turkey
Dr Mehmet Asutay, Durham University, UK
Ebru Avci, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
Dr. Bilgin Ayata, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
U. Rezan Azizoğlu, Ankara University, Turkey
Hanifi Barış, University of Aberdeen, UK
Luqman Barwari, president, Kurdish National Congress-North America (KNC-NA)
Oyman Basaran, The University of Massachusetts, USA
Dr. Bahar Başer, University of Warwick, UK
Dr. Derya Bayır, University of London , UK
Fırat Bozçalı, Stanford University, USA
Dr. Katharina Brizić, Linguist, Austria
Adnan Çelik, EHESS, Paris, France
Umit Cetin, University of Essex, UK
Cuma Cicek, Paris Institute of Political Studies, France
Ozgur Cicek, Binghamton University, NY, USA
Ayca Ciftci, University of London, UK
Deniz Cifci, Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey
Dr Barzoo Eliassi, Lund University, Sweden
Secil Dagtas, University of Toronto, Canada
Engin Emre Değer, Istanbul Şehir University, Turkey
Esin Düzel, UCSD, USA
Burcu Ege, Independent Researcher, Turkey
Delal Aydin Elhuseyni, Binghamton University, NY, USA
Muhammed Mesud Fırat, Bilgi University. Turkey
Bahar Şahin Fırat, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Özlem Galip, University of Exeter, UK
Başak Gemici, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey
Frangis Ghaderi, University of Exeter, UK
Onur Gunay, Princeton University, USA
Azat Z. Gundogan, Binghamton University, NY, USA
Saed Kakei, Nova Southeastern University, USA
Fethi Karakecili, York University, Canada
Maryam Kashani, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr Janroj Keles , London Metropolitan University, UK
Yeşim Mutlu, METU, Turkey
Dr. Nilay Ozok-Gundogan, Denison University, USA
Dr. Cengiz Güneş, The Open University, UK
Serra Hakyemez, Johns Hopkins University, USA
Wendy Hamelink, Leiden University, Netherlands
Murat Issı, University of Panteion, Greece
Mithat Ishakoglu, University of Exeter, UK
Erkan Karaçay, University of Exeter, UK
Elif İnal, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey
Dr. Iclal Ayşe Küçükkırca, Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey
Dr. Kamran Matin, Sussex University, UK
Caroline McKusick, University of California Davis, USA
Dilan Okçuoğlu, Queens University, Canada
Ergin Opengin, Paris 3, Paris, France
Omer Ozcan, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr. Hisyar Ozsoy, University of Michigan-Flint, USA
Prof. Dr. H.Neşe Özgen, Ege University, Turkey
Erlend Paashe, Peace Research Institute, Oslo, Norway
Berivan Sarikaya, York University, UK
Dr. Besime Şen, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Turkey
Dr. Birgül Açıkyıldız-Şengül, Harvard University, USA
Ruken Sengul, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
Dr. Serdar Şengül, Harvard University, USA
Dr. Prakash Shah, University of London, UK
Christian Sinclair, University of Arizona, USA
Prof. Dr. Nükhet Sirman, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Ülker Sözen, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, Turkey
Marcin Starzewski, Sabanci University, Turkey
Kelly Stuart, Columbia University, USA
Dr. Engin Sustam, EHESS, Paris, france
Dr. Raja Swamy, The University of Arkansas, USA
Mohammedali Yaseen Taha, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Dr. Latif Tas, Humbolt University, Berlin, Germany
Salima Tasdemir, University of Exeter, UK
Omer Tekdemir, Durham University, UK
Dr. Sebahattin Topçuoğlu, Hamburg, Germany
Dr. Nazan Üstündağ, Bogazici University, Turkey
Dr. Kamala Visweswaran, The University of Texas At Austin, USA
Muge Yamanyilmaz, Bilgi University, Turkey
Serkan Yaralı, EHESS, Paris, France
Güllistan Yarkın, Binghamton University, USA
Prof. Dr. Mesut Yeğen, Istanbul Şehir University, Turkey
İsmail Hakkı Yiğit, Fatih University, Turkey
Dilan Yildirim, Harvard University, USA
Emrah Yıldız, Harvard University, USA
Cagri Yoltar, Duke University, USA
Dr. Zafer Yörük, Izmir University of Economics, Turkey
Ayse Seda Yuksel, Central European University, Hungary
Dr Welat Zeydanlioglu, Kurdish Studies Network, Sweden
Max Zirngast, University of Vienna, Austria
Hunger strikers; Fuat Kav, Gönül Kaya, Ahmet Çelik, Mecbure Özer, Harun Yilmaz, Ahmet Kiliç, Emine Benek, Gulistan Hasan, Nigar Enayati, Erol Polat, İmam Yildiz, Oner Uludag, Kerim Sivri, Tarik Yusufi and Hasan Acar (Photo:YeniOzgurPolitika)
15 Kurdish activists started an unlimited hunger strike in Strasbourg, France, on 1 March 2012. The aim of the action was to support the then ongoing hunger strike of imprisoned BDP parliamentarian Selma Irmak, amongst others. That hunger strike started on 15 February at the same time as the still ongoing hunger strike of 2000 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish prisons, now on its 63rd day. New people join the hunger strike in prisons on a regular basis, and 500 new people joined this week resulting in 2000 prisoners currently being on hunger strike in Turkish prisons.
So far three of the hunger strikers in Strasbourg have been in such a bad condition that they have been taken to the hospital but they all were refusing treatment and nutrition supplements and instead demanded to be taken back to rest of the hunger strikers to continue.
The hunger strike in Strasbourg was initiated outside the office of the European Council under the heading of “Freedom for Ocalan” and has so far gathered the support of Kurds and non Kurds alike from many of the European countries. Kurdish artists, internationally renowned public figures and politicians as well as the people of Strasbourg have showed support and solidarity with the unlimited hunger strike.
The demands are concluded in five bullet points (see below) and focus mainly on the health condition of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and the ongoing state violence of Turkey against the Kurdish people.
The hunger strikers demand;
• that the isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in solitary confinement in Imrali prison in Turkey, should immediately stop and that his health condition is improved and guaranteed.
• that representatives from the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) visit Imrali to investigate the conditions at the prison island and thereafter notify the public of the results.
• that the European Council takes the correct measures against the Turkish state’s oppression of the Kurdish people
• that the European Union will reconsider their relations with Turkey and if there are not any improvements, the relations with Turkey will come to cease.
• that the PKK is removed from the EU list of terrorist organisations.
The hunger strike has caught the attention of many politicians and the last public figure to raise his voice against Turkish state violations against the Kurdish people is Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from 1984, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. He calls upon the Secretary General of the European Council, Thorbjørn Jagland, to take action in this matter of urgency.