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News number: 9107118704

14:09 | 2012-11-12

World

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Turkish Leaders Join Hunger Strike for Ocalan

TEHRAN (FNA)- Several politicians have joined a weeks-long hunger strike demanding an end to the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is currently serving a life sentence in a prison in Turkey.



The mayor of Diyarbakir, a predominantly Kurdish city in Southeastern Turkey, said in a statement on Sunday that he had stopped eating. Five Kurdish members of the parliament also said they are on hunger strike, Aljazeera reported.

The politicians join some 700 Kurdish inmates with links to the PKK, who have spent more than eight weeks on hunger strike.

Ocalan has been kept in solitary confinement on an island near Istanbul since 1999. His lawyers have not been allowed access to the island for 15 months.

The hunger strikers are also demanding that they be allowed to speak Kurdish in court. The language has been subject to widespread restrictions for decades. It was banned in schools until earlier this year, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to allow it as an elective subject.

The Turkish government insists that none of the prisoners are in critical condition yet. They are consuming water and sugary drinks, which allows them to prolong their strike.

But several members of the Republican People's Party, the main opposition party, told Turkish media that prisoners they met during a tour of detention facilities were showing symptoms of starvation.

Local media reports said the government is negotiating with members of the Peace and Democracy Party, the main Kurdish party, to end the hunger strike.