At least 680 Kurdish inmates imprisoned around Turkey have been on a hunger strike for 55 days. Their demands include “health, security and freedom” for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and his removal from isolation, and the right to be educated and defended in court in their own language. While some have ended their hunger strike, others continue and medical personnel warn that many are near death. In response to calls by pro-Kurdish activists to support the hunger strikers, stores did not open and students did not attend school in several largely Kurdish southeastern cities. Demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers in Ankara and Istanbul have been dispersed by riot police using water cannons and tear gas. Member of parliament from the Kurdish BDP Aysel Tuğluk announced that as of today thousands of prisoners around the country will begin a hunger strike.
Here is an interesting account of the use of hunger strikes by Irish prisoners in 1980/81 and their relation to the Turkish hunger strikes.
In a related issue, the Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court sentenced Reyhan Çapan, the editor-in-chief and publisher of the daily Özgür Gündem, to one year and three months in prison on terrorism charges for a headline that appeared on the newspaper, “Revolt Speaks” (Söz Serhıldanın) which appeared in the March 21st issue. The court argued that the headline was terrorist propaganda. Other headlines raised in the case were: “Ceaseless Action Until Freedom” (Özgürlüğe Kadar Kesintisiz Eylem) and “The Kurds’ Amed and Istanbul Newroz” (Kürtlerin Amed ve Istanbul Newrozu).