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.


Trump and Haftar discussed 'counterterrorism efforts' in Libya

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago
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Trump and Haftar discussed 'counterterrorism efforts' in Libya

WEST PALM BEACH: The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Monday to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and discussed "ongoing counterterrorism efforts and the need to achieve peace and stability in Libya."
The statement said Trump "recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system."
It was unclear why the White House waited several days to announce the phone call.
On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time. Also on Thursday, mortar bombs crashed down on a suburb of Tripoli, almost hitting a clinic, after two weeks of an offensive by Haftar's eastern troops on the Libyan capital, which is held by the UN-backed government.
The British-drafted resolution blames Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his Libyan National Army (LNA) advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month. Many countries in the region see Haftar as a bulwark against extremist groups.  
The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya. The country has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.
White House national security adviser John Bolton also spoke recently to Haftar.