Below are excerpts of a Nov. 5, 2012, statement by Kurdish prisoners on hunger strike in Turkey since Sept. 12. Now thousands more prisoners are joining the hunger strike, making it one of the largest hunger strike protests in history. [On Nov. 18, after press time, the strike was called off. The strikers won the right to speak Kurdish in court.]
To the attention of the public; to the attention of all democratic people and human rights circles:
We, prisoners of freedom, are by this action announcing to the whole world our most basic human, social and political rights, which are legitimately ours—like our mother’s milk is ours. We demand that atrocities end.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his crew should know that this tyrannical order, this sultanate of cruelty will bring no prosperity to those who carry it out. Those who prosper will end up in a dreadful state of being.
We are asking the whole world: Who can ignore our right to defend ourselves in our native language? Who can deny our right to education in our mother tongue? Who can find it normal that a people’s leader is kept in isolation and tortured? Who can reject a dialogue with our leader, who is the only assurance and the sole key to our living together? We are demanding that anyone who calls herself human respond to these questions!
We are saying “Enough already,” “Edi Bese!” to this system that ignores us as a people, refuses our existence, and denies our liberty. To resolve the Kurdish issue peacefully and democratically, for our peoples to live in sisterhood and fraternity, for our dignity and freedom, we are laying our bodies down for death.
Our action is also an appeal to conscience, a cry of an oppressed people, a way of calling off the insults hurled at our people, and through us, at all humanity.
Our demands are addressed only to the JDP (Justice and Development Party) government. Our action will end when we achieve our goals. Until then new people will join us every day.
To our people and to the public:
The hunger strike that we began on Sept. 12 is in its 54th day as we write this.
As of today, we are entering a new stage. From Nov. 5 forward, we will continue our action with the involvement of 10,000 people. Beginning Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, all of the allied prisoners except for the sick, the elderly, and the children will go on an indefinite hunger strike without rotation.
We are inviting to sobriety all people who approach us casually rather than seriously, who use all means to break and denigrate our strike, and who are responsible for twisting reality by misrepresenting our truth.
We are saying, “Let us prevent any outcome that could endanger the willpower of our peoples to live together and our social peace.” It should be known that a resolution cannot be achieved by ignoring our demands, decrying our action and lying on television, in Europe, and in front of the whole world. On the contrary, the path to peace goes through a constructive engagement.
To our beloved Kurdistan and our families:
Our hunger strike, joined by the insurgency of our people and transformed into national unity and willpower, will play a historic role. We wish and expect that our people and friends become convinced of this as well.
We are calling on our Turkish sisters and brothers, on all peoples living in Turkey and on all responsive parties in question to contribute to our resistance, to support and to give a hand to our people, who are now standing up.
The winner will be our people, the winner will be freedom, the winner will be peace, the winner will be the future and democracy of our people. Those who lose will be the enemies of liberty.