The following statement is issued by MEPs and guests at the conference “The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean – an active volcano” taking place today in Nicosia, Cyprus:

Leyla Güven, a deputy of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey has been on hunger strike since the 7th November 2018 to protest against the Turkish Government’s unlawful isolation of Abdullah Öcalan.

Today is the 62nd day of her hunger strike, which has reached a critical level. Her health is rapidly deteriorating. She has lost significant weight. She has a brain tumour but cannot take the necessary medicine because it should be taken on a full stomach. We are deeply worried about her declining health.

Mr Öcalan has had all visitation rights from his family and lawyers denied. He is held at the Imrali Island prison since 1999. The last time his lawyers were permitted to visit him was on the 27th July 2011, despite the fact that there are pending cases against their client. The last family visit took place two years ago when his brother visited the prison on the 11th September 2016. There has been no news about the health and wellbeing of Mr Öcalan since then, and all communication with anyone either by phone or by mail is strictly prohibited.

Such absolute isolation of Mr Öcalan, who was one of the leading figures of the peace process between 2013 and 2015, is obstructing efforts to re-initiate dialogue and resume the peace process in the context of the Kurdish conflict.

Leyla Güven was arrested on 31 January 2018 and has been held in Diyarbakir E-type High Security Prison. She faces up to 31 years and 6 months in prison due to her critical statements on Turkey’s invasion of Afrin in northwest Syria and other speeches she made as a Kurdish politician.

Ms Güven was elected to the parliament as an HDP deputy for Hakkari while in prison. In clear violation of the Turkish Constitution and international law, she was not released from prison despite the fact that she did gain parliamentary immunity in June 2018.

We hear the message of Leyla Güven. Turkey should respect its own laws by immediately releasing Leyla from prison and meet her demands by putting an end to the unlawful isolation of Mr Öcalan and other political prisoners. The only solution to the Kurdish issue is peaceful and democratic dialogue, not isolation and imprisonment.

Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin, Ireland), Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin, Ireland),  Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin, Ireland), Takis Hadjigeorgiou (AKEL, Cyprus), Kostadinka Kuneva (SYRIZA, Greece), Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin, Ireland), Dimitris Papadimoulis (SYRIZA, Greece), Paloma Lopez (IU, Spain), Sabine Lösing (DIE LINKE, Germany), Lidia Senra (independent, Galicia), Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL, Cyprus), Ángella Vallina (IU, Spain), Miguel Viegas (PCP, Portugal)

Conference guests
Raid Fahmi (General Secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party), Aqel Taqz (Palestinian People’s Party), Aida Touma (Communist Party of Israel), Nizar Trabulsi (Syrian Communist Party Unified)

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