Protest shows solidarity with Kurdish political prisoners’ hunger strike

Members of Melbourne’s Kurdish community protested outside the Victorian Parliament on October 30 in solidarity with Kurdish political prisoners on hunger strike in Turkish jails. The protest was part of an International Day of Action to mark 50 days since 65 Kurdish prisoners, led by women prisoners in Diyarbakir, began the fast on September 12.

On October 15, more than 700 prisoners in 39 jails — members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party (PAJK) — joined the hunger strike.

The Melbourne action was organised by the Kurdish Federation of Australia, which said the Turkish regime had “detained tens of thousands of Kurdish politicians, journalists, health workers, lawyers, human rights activists and children, imprisoning almost 10,000 since 2009 … not a single firearm, weapon or anything pertaining to terrorist activity was found [on] these people who have been in prison for almost four years without sentencing”.

The hunger strikers have three demands. First, for imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to be moved from the solitary confinement in which he has been held for the past 13 years and included in peace negotiations. Second, for the Kurdish language to be allowed in the education system and the public sphere. The third demand of the hunger strikers is that when they are brought to trial they are allowed to conduct their defence in Kurdish.

Kurdistan is occupied by Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.