STUC pledges action to highlight and support Kurdish hunger strikers

Stephen Smellie
Stephen Smellie

#stuc19 Depute Convener Stephen Smellie seconded an emergency motion on the Kurdish hunger strikers, who are calling for an end to the isolation in a Turkish prison of the Kurdish political leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

The STUC will highlight the plight of the hunger strikers to all member unions calling for solidarity action.

It will also call for action against Turkey unless it addresses human rights abuses in relation to Ocalan and other political prisoners.

Stephen said that in past years Congress has offered support to the Kurdish struggle in Turkey, has demanded that the PKK be removed from the list of terrorist organisations and has called for Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, a writer, and advocate for a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish Question, to be released from his 20 years of solitary confinement in the prison on Imrali island in Turkey.

“The Turkish government have a number of times during the past 20 years sought negotiations with Ocalan, in his prison cell, to achieve an end to the conflict.

“That was scuppered when President Erdogan decided that his electoral success required not peace but violence. Since then Ocalan has received only 2 very brief visits from his brother,” said Stephen, adding that he has had no access to the Kurdish political movement and since 2011 no access to his legal team and lawyers.

“The widespread demands to end his isolation, a form of torture, have been ignored.”

This has led to frustration and outrage across the Kurdish people resulting in the desperate actions of thousands of people engaging in hunger strikes.

“No-one should be on hunger strike. It is not a campaigning tactic that anyone should consider but it is a last desperate act to try to get the Turkish authorities to act.

“But they don’t care if hundreds of Kurdish activists in Turkey and across the world die,” slammed Stephen.

He called for us to build widespread international support for their demands and pointed out that in supporting this motion, Congress will be amongst the leaders in building this campaign. He urged all affiliates to also take the actions called for in the motion and where possible, to visit the hunger strikers and show our solidarity.

Click here for more information on the STUC website.

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