Growing support for Turkish rallyists on hunger strike

Supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) hold a picture of jailed former party leader Selahattin Demirtas as they attend a 'Peace and Justice' rally in Istanbul on February 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 February 2019
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Growing support for Turkish rallyists on hunger strike

  • The HDP party remains under the scrutiny of Turkish authorities, which accuse it of links to the PKK

ISTANBUL: Thousands of protesters on Sunday joined a rally in Istanbul called by a pro-Kurdish party to show support for hunger strikes against prison conditions of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The protesters gathered at a square in Bakirkoy on the European side of Istanbul, with police tightening security measures.
“I am saluting my friends resisting in prisons. They are our honor, they are not alone,” Fahit Ulas, a supporter of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“If needed we will sacrifice our bodies for this cause. We have no fear,” he added.
Some 250 prisoners all over Turkey have launched hunger strikes in support of HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven, who wants to pressure the Turkish government to allow Ocalan to hold regular meetings with his lawyers and family members.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been serving a life sentence on a prison island off Istanbul since his 1999 capture.
The 55-year-old Guven was jailed in January 2018 for her criticism of Turkey’s military operation against a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Last week, a Turkish court in Kurdish majority city Diyarbakir freed her under judicial supervision. Guven, who entered the 88th day of her hunger strike on Sunday, launched the protest move on Nov. 8 while in jail.
She told AFP in an interview on Wednesday that she would press on with the hunger strike at home.
Garo Paylan, an HDP MP who joined the Istanbul protest, said choosing a hunger strike was a “last remedy,” hoping Guven’s demand would be met as soon as possible.
“We want this demand to be fulfilled before any death,” he told AFP. In 2012, hundreds of Kurdish prisoners ended a 68-day hunger strike after Ocalan urged them to do so.
The HDP party remains under the scrutiny of Turkish authorities, which accuse it of links to the PKK.


US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria. (US Army photo)
Updated 57 min 32 sec ago
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US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

  • The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.
But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.