By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Turkey granted imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan his first visitor in nearly two years this Saturday. Turkish courts ruled in 2016 that he was to receive no visitors, including family. Mr. Öcalan has not had access to visits from his attorneys since 2011 despite filing over seven hundred requests to do so. Mr. Öcalan was visited by his brother, Mohammad Öcalan.
While it is unclear exactly why Turkey had a change of heart regarding the visits, it was recently widely reported on Thursday in Turkish and Kurdish news media that a jailed member of Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey is suffering “life-threatening” medical conditions during her hunger strike that started sixty-five days ago. She began the strike to protest the conditions and isolation that Mr. Öcalan was experiencing at the hands of his Turkish captors.
Like many of her Kurdish politician cohorts in Turkey, Ms. Guven experienced imprisonment and disenfranchisement at the hands of the Turkish State, often for engaging in speech or parliamentary actions in opposition to policies and practices of President Erdogan. She was arrested in January of last year for criticizing her country’s military operations against Kurdish anti-jihadist militias in Syria. She currently is awaiting trial along with several other HDP MPs.
Her condition is grave.
E-Kurd.net reports “Guven, who has lost about 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds), cannot meet her needs or walk alone,” it said, adding that she has started having problems such as aphasia, sensitivity to sound and light, and is often close to losing consciousness. “Leyla Guven’s situation has reached a critical stage that cannot be delayed, ignored or neglected for even an hour.” At least 171 prisoners are on hunger strike, according to the party, urging the international community to “urgently act and show their democratic reaction”.
By Darren Smith
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