October 30, 2012
We, members of Kurdish National Congress of North America and Kurdish American Community of California will hold a demonstration in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles on Monday, November 5th, 2012 between the hours of 12:00 – 2:00 PM to give voice to the growing outrage felt at the Turkish policies against innocent Kurdish people in Turkey.
Almost 800 Kurdish political prisoners in 58 prisons in Turkey are reaching the 50th day of an indefinite and irreversible hunger strike. Serious health consequences stemming from the strikes could be imminent as the US-backed Turkish government refuses to meet the political prisoners’ legitimate demands.
The hunger strikers are calling for provisions to use their mother language in education and the public sphere; the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state; and respect for the fundamental rights of the Kurdish people.
The Kurdish struggle for equal rights has made historic gains in recent years, and Turkey has responded by imprisoning thousands of Kurdish democracy advocates, including elected politicians, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders. Meanwhile, the Kurdish political movement has continued to call for a negotiated rights-based solution to the conflict within Turkey’s borders. Despite this, the US-backed Turkish government has taken an increasingly hard-line posture towards the Kurds, unilaterally terminating negotiations with the Kurdish political leadership, intensifying military and political operations against the Kurdish movement, and preventing Abdullah Ocalan from seeing his lawyers since July 2011.
The root causes of the hunger striker are therefore Turkey’s refusal to accept a negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue and the AKP government’s attempt to crush all democratic resistance to its unjust policies. Any adverse outcomes resulting from the protest will be due to the government’s intransigence.
Those on hunger strike include imprisoned members of parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), notably Şırnak deputies Selma Irmak and Faisal Sarıyıldız, as well as Mardin deputy Gulseren Yildirim. Bekir Kaya, the mayor of Wan, has also joined the protest.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations have denounced Turkey’s record of violating the human rights and of its Kurdish population. AI recently voiced concerns over allegations that the Turkish government isn’t respecting the hunger strikers’ rights and called on Ankara to show due respect for these rights.
The Kurdish people have clearly shown their support for the hunger strikers and their demands with a series of demonstrations and actions across Turkey. Family members of strikers and concerned people have been taking turn to wait in front of the prisons to force the government to act upon this mass resistance.
As Kurds based in North America, we’re calling on people of conscience everywhere to contact public authorities to pressure the Turkish government to honor its obligations under international human rights law. We ask you to reach your political representatives, Turkish consulates and embassies near you, as well as human rights organizations.
An outpouring of public concern at this time could achieve important gains for the Kurdish struggle for equal rights and save the lives of hunger strikers.
Please act now. Tomorrow may be too late.
The Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC-NA) is a member-driven organization representing Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan living in the United States and Canada.