EU Commission for Enlargement concerned about hunger strike

02 November 2012 – ANF – Hunger strike in Turkish prisons reaches day 52. – In a written statement Peter Stano, spokesperson for EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Mr Stefan Füle (in charge also of the EU-Turkey Accession talks) expressed concerns over the health situation of Kurdish political prisoners on fast and called on the Turkish government to make efforts in the scope of international human rights norms.

The hunger strike has reached day 52 and it is putting the Turkish government under pressure as more and more people are supporting and joining the fast every day. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been denying the action by prisoners and insulted them saying that they are just making a show.

On October 31, Erdoğan claimed in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin that there were actually no hunger strikers except one prisoner on a death fast. He said the rest were making a political show. In the same day and ironically in the same hours, Turkish Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin stated in a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in Ankara that a total of 683 prisoners were on a hunger strike in 66 Turkish prisons.

The statement says that “The European Commission is following the situation closely and is concerned about reports that the health condition of the prisoners on hunger strike is deteriorating”. The statement that reiterates that “The Commission calls on the hunger strikers not to endanger their health and lives. We call for efforts to prevent a further deterioration in the health of the prisoners in line with international human rights norms”.

As a general principle, the Commission “reiterates the importance to adequately address the Kurdish issue. The South-East needs peace, democracy and stability as well as social, economic and cultural development. This can only be achieved via consensus over concrete measures expanding the social, economic and cultural rights of the people living in the region”.

The statement ends by saying that “Finding a solution to the Kurdish issue and to all the problems in the South-East requires the widest possible contribution of all democratic forces, and an open and frank public discussion that can be conducted in the full respect of basic fundamental freedoms.”