On November 16, members of the Kurdish community took to Melbourne’s streets in solidarity with Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish jails and in support of the demands of the hunger strike by more than 700 prisoners. There are almost 10,000 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey. The demonstrators marched to Trades Hall, where Kurdish community members began a three-day solidarity fast.
The Melbourne protest marked the hunger strike’s 66th day. The hunger strikers are demanding the right to conduct their legal defence in the Kurdish language, for Kurdish to be allowed in the education system and the public sphere and for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan to be allowed to participate in peace negotiations and be moved out of solitary confinement.
Addressing the protest, recently elected Socialist Alliance Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton drew parallels between the suppression of the Kurdish language and culture and the suppression of Aboriginal language and culture in Australia and its genocidal implications.
She invited members of the Kurdish community to attend the next council meeting to support a resolution in solidarity with the hunger strikers and for the promotion of Kurdish language and culture in Moreland, where much of Melbourne’s Kurdish community is concentrated.