More MPs to join hunger strikes

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 10.11.2012 – As the 60th day arrives for hunger strikers in prisons, lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are ready to join in the protest. ‘We cannot bear the conscientious and ethical responsibility of waiting while people are under life-threatening situations,’ says BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak.

A number of lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are set to join hundreds of inmates who have been on an indefinite hunger strike for 60 days as of Nov. 10, with BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak calling on the government to take rapid and urgent steps to resolve the crisis. “Hunger strikes will come to a very critical phase on their 60th day. We cannot bear the conscientious and ethical responsibility of waiting while people are under life-threatening situations. We are ready to do what is needed for a resolution, but we have reached a conclusion that we cannot contribute to the solution of the issue by just waiting,” Kışanak told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.

“We don’t want to lose our hope, we want to resolve this issue. Everything would turn upside down if one person dies, so the government must take rapid and urgent steps,” she added.

The most rapid step would be allowing lawyers to visit convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea, according to Kışanak. “The government should not perceive such action as a concession. If lawyers are allowed, existing legal obligations will be fulfilled,” she said.Seven lawmakers are to start a hunger strike in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Nov. 10, BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan told the Daily News, adding that they would continue their endeavors for a solution to the problem. BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş is likely to join the hunger strike, according to party sources.

Waiting for Erdoğan

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said on Nov. 8 that a legal arrangement paving the way for use of mother tongues in courts would be sent to Parliament as soon as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returns home from abroad. Kışanak, for her part, praised Ergin’s efforts to ease the crisis, while expressing his despair over Erdoğan’s attitude towards hunger strikes.“The justice minister showed a humanistic approach to the hunger strikes and he gave exact information over the issue. But the prime minister described the hunger strikes as ‘showing off.’ I understand that the justice minister is in a tight spot, but we have to do something before it’s too late,” she said. Meanwhile, Öcalan’s lawyers’ appeal to the prosecutor’s office in Bursa to visit their client on Friday was rejected on the grounds that the coaster that is used to carry lawyers from Mudanya to İmralı Island is broken.