Forty people participated in a day of fasting earlier this week in solidarity with Newport resident Imam Sis, who has been on hunger strike to end the solitary confinement of Kurdish political leader Abdullah Öcalan.
A group of fasters kept Imam company throughout the day at the Kurdish Community Centre in Newport while friends and participants dropped in to show solidarity.
Messages of support were delivered from participants all over Wales and the world, including from Welsh language poet Menna Elfyn, punk musician Efa Supertramp, as well as Internationalist Commune, an environmentalist group working in Rojava, northern Syria.
Ympydio heddiw i gydsefyll efo Imam Sis sydd ar y 71fed dydd o’i streic newyn /// Fasting for today to show solidarity with Imam Sis who is 71 days into his hunger strike #Fast4Apo #YmprydApo #LeylaGüven @LlywodraethCym @Fast4Apo @Plaid_Cymru pic.twitter.com/I4hLcTAVEk
— Efa Supertramp (@Efa_Twm) February 25, 2019
Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, and Assembly Member Delyth Jewell also expressed solidarity with Imam Sis. Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg also showed their support.
Campaigners have expressed concerns about the deteriorating health of the hundreds of hunger-strikers. Imam Sis has not eaten anything for 73 days, and HDP member of Parliament in Turkey Leyla Güven, who has been on hunger strike for 113 days, is in a critical condition, surviving on lemon tea and vitamin tablets.
The hunger-strikers are demanding that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture visit Imrali Prison, where Öcalan is interned, and for Turkish authorities to allow Öcalan’s lawyers access, in keeping with his human rights under international law.
Welsh supporters will be delivering a letter to Assembly Members shortly to call on the Senedd to issue a statement amplifying these demands.
Rydym yn cyd-sefyll gydag Imam Sis a’r Cwrdiaid o gwmpas y byd sy’n ymprydio er mwyn dod â charchariad Abdullah Öcalan i ben. Anfona neges o gefnogaeth at: Canolfan Gymunedol Gwrdaidd, 119 Heol Casgwent, Casnewydd, NP19 8BZ#LeylaGüven #Öcalan@Fast4Apo @KurdsCampaign
— Cymdeithas yr Iaith (@Cymdeithas) February 22, 2019
“Kurds are not only denied their ethnic status, but are not even to be treated as humans, and all the fundamental human rights that everyone else enjoys are denied to the Kurds,” says Imam Sis, who is a supporter of Welsh independence and member of Plaid Cymru.
Abdullah Öcalan’s political theories have been influential in Syrian Kurdistan, providing the groundwork for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava), an autonomous, multi-ethnic region whose fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have almost defeated ISIS.
“It has been the Kurds who have fought against ISIS/Daesh in Syria at enormous sacrifice. Over 8,000 young people have given their lives in the fight against ISIS/Daesh while at the same time building a progressive society in northern Syria.” said Imam Sis.