Hunger striking Kurdish MP Leyla Guven given honorary citizenship of Paris

 Steve Sweeney

Hunger striker Turkish Kurd MP Leyla

Kurdish hunger striking MP Leyla Guven was awarded honorary citizenship of Paris last night after the city council voted in favour of a motion brought by the Left Party.

Danielle Simonnet, who is also the national spokeswoman for La France Insoumise, won majority support in the chamber to grant Ms Guven, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP who has entered the 90th day of her hunger strike, citizenship of the French capital.

The motion also called for the government to pressure Turkey to end the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and prevent a massacre of Kurds in Syria by Turkish armed forces who are threatening an imminent invasion of Manbij.

After the vote which was backed by the Left Party, French Communist Party (PCF), France Insoumise and the Greens, Ms Simonnet declared: “Victory! My appeal to award HDP MP Leyla Guven who is on a hunger strike with honorary citizenship and to support the Kurdish people victimised by [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has been adopted by the Paris City Council.”

Ms Simonnet was part of an international delegation that travelled to Diyarbakir last month in a bid to meet Ms Guven, which was blocked by Turkish security services.

Ms Guven was unexpectedly released from prison at the end of January, however the charges against her — spreading terrorist propaganda relating to speeches opposing Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin — remain.

Ms Guven’s hunger strike started on November 8 in protest at the continued isolation of Mr Ocalan, who is held in solitary confinement on Imrali island in Istanbul.

Despite her release she vowed to continue her action until her demands are met, saying she was prepared to die for the cause and freedom for the Kurdish people.

Ms Guven’s determination has forced concessions from the Turkish state including the first visit to Mr Ocalan, who had not been seen since 2016, by his brother Memed.

However it was deemed a move to appease the Kurdish population and bring an end to the hunger strikes with the resistance continuing.

Her action has inspired a global movement of solidarity, with hunger strikes also spreading in Turkish jails where 291 political prisoners have joined the action.

Ms Simonnet said: ”There here 10,000 political prisoners in two hours distance from Paris … we need to intervene.”

Ms Guven’s health is in a critical state, with medics warning: “Her health could change drastically in a short period and undesirable situations may arise.”


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