HDP 'optimistic' about end of hunger strike – Kurdish media

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Leyla Güven could announce the end of her hunger strike after 197 days, Iraqi Kurdish network Rudaw reported on Thursday.

Güven called the hunger strike to protest the restrictions on Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been held in İmralı Prison in western Turkey since his capture in 1999.

Turkey views the PKK, which has fought Turkish security forces since launching a separatist uprising in 1984, as a terrorist organisation. However, Öcalan is widely respected among Kurds in Turkey and its neighbours as a leader of the Kurdish political movement.

This month Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government ended an eight-year ban, allowing Öcalan to meet with his lawyers on the island prison. The justice ministry said the possibility of further visits was on the table as the ban had been lifted.

If true, Güven’s announcement would likely end a protest movement that has seen 3,000 people join her in the hunger strike.

HDP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu did not confirm whether Güven is planning to end the hunger strike, but said developments had been “very positive” and described an “optimistic atmosphere” among party members.

“Everyone now expects the end of the strike to be announced”, he said.