Pro-Kurdish MPs end hunger strike
Four pro-Kurdish MPs who declared the start of a hunger strike in the Turkish parliament last week in protest at a court ruling against the release of jailed MPs with suspected links to Kurdish rebels, ended their strike on its fourth day.
Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Sebahat Tuncel, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Levent Tüzel announced the end of their strike at a joint press conference on December 20.
“You promised to recognize the right of the Kurds to engage in democratic politics. They laid down their arms, they trusted you. You are keeping [in prison] the one [Abdullah Öcalan] who would actually be released, even if he were convicted today, thanks to the Anti-Terror Law and the dichotomous law,” Önder said at the press conference.
“This is another declaration of war against the Kurds,” he added.
The four went on hunger strike in protest against the Diyarbakır 5th and 6th High Criminal Courts’ refusal to release five jailed parliamentarians elected from the BDP, the HDP’s sister party.
Hopes for the release of the BDP deputies had heightened after the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) deputy Mustafa Balbay was released from jail on Dec. 9, pending appeal, after the Constitutional Court ruled on Dec. 4 that his pre-trial detention had violated his rights. Balbay pledged his oath in Parliament on Dec. 10 after nearly five years in prison in the Ergenekon coup plot case.
The BDP MPs, Gülser Yıldırım, Selma Irmak, İbrahim Ayhan, Faysal Sarıyıldız and Kemal Aktaş, were elected in the June 2011 general elections while imprisoned. They were detained in 2009 and 2010 on charges of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and are still being held, pending verdicts.
Several academics had argued that the Constitutional Court ruling over Balbay’s appeal would set a precedent for other jailed MPs. However, the Diyarbakır courts ruled that this was not the case.