Kurdish MP on hunger strike in Turkey jail gets release order

Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven, who is on hunger strike for nearly three months, is pictured at her home after being released from prison, in Diyarbakir, Turkey January 25, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 January 2019
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Kurdish MP on hunger strike in Turkey jail gets release order

  • Jailed militant Ocalan is head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey

DIYARBAKIR: A Turkish court on Friday released a Kurdish lawmaker who was jailed last year for criticizing Ankara’s military operation in Syria and has been on hunger strike for nearly three months.
Leyla Guven still faces trial and up to 31 years’ jail over charges of terrorism leadership and propaganda for her opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northwest Syria’s Afrin region.
The judge in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir released Guven as she had already been in custody for a year. Her health has deteriorated during a 79-day hunger strike to protest against the prison isolation of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, those close to her say.
“This is a bittersweet joy for us,” Guven’s daughter, Sabiha Temizkan, told Reuters, saying her mother would continue her hunger strike despite her release.
“I hope her demand will be met and her hunger strike will be finished before it does damage to her,” Temizkan said.
Guven, wearing a surgical mask, made a victory sign from inside an ambulance after her release.
She has been consuming water with sugar, salt and vitamins. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), says 250 inmates and politicians have joined the hunger strike.
Guven was among some 600 people detained over social media posts and protests criticising Turkey’s operation last year into Afrin where it pushed out the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG, viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group.
Last June, Guven was elected to parliament as a HDP member while in detention. Ten former HDP parliamentarians detained are still in prison.
Guven is also co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella group of civil society organisations based in Diyarbakir.
Jailed militant Ocalan is head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.


UN begins evacuating refugees from Libya to Niger

Updated 5 min 1 sec ago
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UN begins evacuating refugees from Libya to Niger

  • The renewed fighting has killed over 200 people and left more than 900 wounded
  • Dozens of women and children were among those evacuated on the UNHCR flight that landed in Niger early Friday morning

GENEVA: The UN said Friday it had evacuated 163 refugees from war-ravaged Libya to neighboring Niger, but more than 3,000 others were still trapped in detention centers affected by clashes.
The move marked the first evacuation of refugees and migrants out of Libya since fighting escalated in Tripoli two weeks ago, the UN refugee agency said.
“Given the situation in Libya, humanitarian evacuations are a lifeline for detained refugees whose lives are in jeopardy in Libya,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
The operation came as fierce fighting continued between forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar and those backing the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
The renewed fighting has killed over 200 people and left more than 900 wounded, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
More than 25,000 have been displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Dozens of women and children were among those evacuated on the UNHCR flight that landed in Niger early Friday morning.
They had all been held in detention centers near the frontlines of the conflict.
UNHCR said it had previously relocated many of them from the Abu Selim and Ain Zara centers to its Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in the center of the capital.
In all, it said, it had relocated 539 refugees from several detention centers near the immediate fighting zone.
But it said more than 3,000 refugees and migrants remain trapped in detention in areas where the fighting was raging.
The agency said it remained “extremely concerned” for the safety of those who remain “trapped inside detention centers and exposed to violence.”
Grandi meanwhile hailed Niger for welcoming the refugees and urged other countries to follow suit.
“Niger’s solidarity in receiving these refugees is world-leading and exemplary, but Niger cannot do this alone,” he said.
“There must be shared responsibility and we need other countries to come forward to lend a hand and help bring vulnerable refugees out of Libya to safety.”
UNHCR issued an urgent appeal to the international community to find solutions for all the trapped and detained refugees in Libya.
Among other things, it said there was a need for evacuations and humanitarian corridors to allow refugees in its GDF in Tripoli to find safety abroad.
It also said new such spaces were needed, since the facility had only limited capacity.