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10,000 Kurdish POWs on Hungerstrike

Since 1984 the Kurdish people in Turkey led by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) have been engaged in a war for an independent socialist homeland. The Turkish government has responded with a brutal military and political campaign of terror and genocide, similar to that waged against Kurds in neighboring Iraq and Iran. Despite the opposition, the PKK has steadily grown stronger politically and military. One of the results of this ongoing war has been that literally thousands of Kurds are political prisoners and prisoners of war in Turkish prisons, subject to harsh and brutal treatment. Despite their conditions the prisoners continue their struggle against the American backed Turkish regime. PLN has long supported the PKK, its prisoners and its struggle. We recently received the following statement from PKK supporters:

"Since July 14, 1995, more than 10,000 POWs from Kurdistan have started an indefinite hungerstrike in Turkish prisons, using the only weapon they have, their bodies, to fight against the barbaric colonialist war of the Turkish regime and to struggle for peace for the Turkish and Kurdish peoples so as to put an end to the suffering of millions of people as fast as possible."

The hungerstriking prisoners have sent the following open letter to several international organizations. It states: "The United Nations and its affiliates, having the responsibility for the peaceful coexistence of the peoples of the world, are no doubt aware of the circumstances in our homeland, Kurdistan. We, the Kurdish people, as responsible members of the world community, wish to be treated fairly. We see you a voice of responsibility and reason and hence are making this announcement to you as we do with various worldwide organizations. Our people, having been denied status even as a colonized people, before the eyes of the United Nations is left to annihilation by this century's most vicious and barbaric regimes. What Saddam saw fit to bring upon the Kurdish people has not yet left our conscience. Today, a similar savagery is being planned and executed by the Turkish regime in Kurdish lands. Our settlements are being destroyed, forests burnt, and all of our land is being systematically deprived of all life. Our people are being forcibly stripped from their lands and are condemned to die. Millions of our people are fighting disease and starvation as they flee their homeland. For those who migrate to the metropolitan areas, hunger, unemployment, and `mystery killings' are new realities. Each day, new attacks are added to the special teams and counter-guerrilla savagery. Even the dead are not exempt from the torture which is rooted in racism and fascist aggression. Today's realities include the rape of young and old women, houses burnt, and villages destroyed. It is impossible to speak of human rights while a people, its culture, its language, and its history are being denied and systematically destroyed. While the whole world watches in silence, we cannot accept the death sentences being served upon our people.

"The Kurdish national liberation movement, under the leadership of the PKK, represents vast portions of Kurdish society and is taking shape with great difficulty and pains. This movement has proven that despite incredible odds, our people, having begun their liberation, will not rest until they are free.

"Common values which enhance people's security and peace must be supported throughout our region. We believe our people are contributing to this endeavor. We ask all organizations, including yours, to show greater sensitivity towards the wishes of our people. Especially since the spring of 1995, the dirty war aimed at exterminating our people rages unabated, despite the calls for a cease-fire issued by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

"We are 10,000 war prisoners. In order to call attention to the suffering in our homeland, we shall begin an indefinite hungerstrike on July 14, 1995. We shall continue our resistance until serious steps are taken to remedy our concerns outlined below. We display our personal gift of life to underline our people's right to live. We hope and wish for change with this moderate step in our people's resistance.

"We seek the following: 1) In order to reach a political solution, calls made by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan for a dialogue must be supported and encouraged; 2) Geneva Convention regulations covering combatants must be observed and enforced in Kurdistan; 3) Killing of civilians, summary executions, torture in prisons, and the burning of villages must come to an end; 4) All war prisoners in jails must be classified as POWs; 5) All military operations designed to destroy our people must be stopped; 6) Under the auspices of the UN and the Red Cross, committees must be formed and sent to monitor the war in Kurdistan and prison conditions.

"This dirty war and all killings can be stopped by common and cohesive action. We believe not in war but in an honorable peace. We hope that you share our views and we appreciate your understanding.

"Kurdish PKK supporters across Europe have supported the prisoners' hungerstrike by launching their own hunger strikes, which had already claimed one life by August 1, 1995. A wave of firebombings has also struck Turkish government offices and business across Europe as people show their support. Anyone desiring more information about Kurdistan and the PKK can contact:

Kurdistan Committee of Canada
2487 Kaladar Ave, Suite 203
Ottawa, Ont. K1V 8B9, Canada

Tel. (613) 733-9634

More information on the prison struggle can be obtained directly from the Solidarity Bureau in Brussels, Belgium. Tel. 322-280-0654.

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