Fourth Kurdish prisoner suicide to protest Turkey's treatment of PKK leader

A Kurdish prisoner in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province was found dead in her cell early Monday in what her lawyer said was a suicide to protest Turkey’s treatment of the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reported pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya Agency.

Twenty-four-year-old Medya Çınar was arrested in May 2016 in Mardin's Nusaybin district and charged with links to the PKK, an armed group that has waged a war against Turkey for over 30 years and that has been labelled a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Captured by Turkey in 1999, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence on Imralı Island, where he has been barred from meeting his lawyers and permitted limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between the state and the PKK in mid-2015.

Çınar is the fourth Kurdish prisoner thought to have committed suicide to protest Öcalan’s treatment since more than 160 Kurdish prisoners and lawmakers began a hunger strike last November.

Zehra Sağlam, who had been behind bars for three years, killed herself in Turkey’s eastern province of Erzurum on Sunday.

Zülküf Gezen, who had been sentenced to 104 years in prison in 2007 on charges of killing one police officer and injuring five others in a bomb attack in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakır, took his own life on March 18.

Ayten Beçet took her own life on March 23 in the women's prison in Kocaeli's Gebze district in protest of Ankara’s treatment of the 70-year-old PKK leader.

HDP lawmaker Leyva Güven, who led the hunger strike protests in prison and has been in partial hunger strike for 138 days, on Sunday urged prisoners not to end their own lives. Hunger strikers in Turkey usually take tea, sugar and vitamins, enabling to continue for months without starving to death.