Pro-Kurdish HDP lawmaker joins hunger strike for Öcalan

A deputy with Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) began a hunger strike to protest the isolation of jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, independent news site Diken reported on Sunday.

HDP Diyarbakır deputy Dersim Dağ joins other lawmakers with the pro-Kurdish party as well as hundreds of inmates who are on a hunger strike in protest of the Turkish state’s treatment of Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK.

Öcalan, who was captured by Turkey in 1999 and has been jailed on İmralı Island since, has been barred from meeting his lawyers and has had only limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between the state and the PKK in 2015 that aimed to end three decades of conflict.

“Our deputy Dersim Dağ along with fellow nationals Bilal Özgezer, İsmet Yıldız, Salih Canseven, Salih Tekin and Sevican Yaşar have announced that they have started an indefinite hunger strike for the government to take steps towards lifting the isolation on Abdullah Öcalan and in protest of its insensitivity to the [ongoing] hunger strikes,’’ the HDP said in a statement they released on Sunday.

HDP lawmaker and co-president of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Güven has led the protest in support of Öcalan and is on the 116th day of her hunger strike. 

Turkish interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has accused Güven and her supporters of ethnic provocation over the strike.

Ankara accuses HDP lawmakers of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interests of the PKK, an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over 30 years.