IRAQ: The Kurds' Starvation

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Lebanon News
Western Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Human Rights

Kurds are a forgotten people. Called the largest nation without a state, they have been fighting for social, cultural and, at times, national rights for decades. But most of the time, nobody cared. Recently the Kurdish Worker's Party's (PKK) renewed war against the Turkish government has made headlines. What bleeds, as journalists say, leads.

But the more subtle, often invisible human rights abuses against them, carried out by Turkish security forces in remote areas, in police stations and prisons, too often go unreported. So does the current hunger strike of hundreds of Kurds in Turkish prisons.

Thirty-five days ago, a group of Kurdish women went on a hunger strike in a prison in Turkey's Kurdish capital Diyarbakir. According to the pro-Kurdish website, more than 350 other Kurdish prisoners all over Turkey joined in for “the right to use their Kurdish mother tongue in the public sphere, including court and the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state.”

Mainstream media has once again failed to pick up the story, while Turkish media has been silenced. Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has charged newspapers with charges of terrorism that have reported on similar issues with terrorism.

Similarly, a quick search on Google News International brings up zero hits about the hunger strike. The followers of the Twitter hashtag #TwitterKurds are negligible.

After three weeks of hunger strike, the body enters starvation mode. From here on the body uses proteins from muscles and organs to produce energy, causing severe damage. After a maximum of 60 days, the person dies.

All of the Kurdish hunger strikers have vowed to pay this price. If Turkish and international media do not pick up the story, the protest will have been in vain.