Kurdish Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Turkey: An Open Letter

Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:25 By Richard D Wolff, Peace and Democracy Party | Press Release
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November 15, 2012

Open Letter to Persons of Conscience:

Currently, in Turkey 10.000 Kurdish political prisoners are in hunger strike. 64 of them have entered their 65th day while 79 more have passed their 54th day. Also, 5 days ago 7 Peace and Democracy Party parliamentarians and the mayor of Diyarbakır have started hunger strike once it became clear that the Turkish prime minister has no intention to negotiate with the prisoners. 

Many people in Turkey are deeply concerned that death due to this hunger strike will cause irreparable damage in the country leading to an ethnic strife. Such a result will have far reaching consequences in the Middle Eastern region where Kurds live in four different countries including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. 

Kurds are a stateless people who have been subject to enormous cruelties in all these countries. In Turkey they have been subject to atrocities including massacre, extralegal murder, enforced displacement and disappearance, mass arrest, torture, execution, ban and restriction of language and culture. Today, many cities in Kurdistan are practically under siege with protests against the regime violently being repressed.

Academicians, artists, democratic circles, women's organization and LGBT activists from all over Turkey have numerous times declared their support of the hunger strikers and their demands. 

Still, in the face of Turkish prime minister's unwillingness to negotiate with the prisoners and denial of recognition of the legitimacy of their demands, we are in great need of international support. Enclosed is more information on the issue and a brief statement we wish to publish in European and American newspapers. We would be extremely thankful if you would grant us your signature to that purpose.



Commission of Foreign Affairs

Peace and Democracy Party


Tel: 0090 312 220 1950

Fax: 0090 312 220 1977



Official Statement

The number of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey who have been on hunger strike since September 12, 2012, has reached 10,000. As of November 10, 2012, 7 Kurdish parliamentarians, the mayor of Diyarbakır and many other civilians have also joined the hunger strikers. The hunger strikers first demand that the Turkish government and the Kurdish Leader Abdullah Öcalan, held in prison, start peace negotiations to end the ongoing war caused by the oppression of Kurds and the denial of their rights and has claimed 40,000 lives over 30 years. Abdullah Öcalan has been kept in solitary confinement on an island for 16 months with no access to any visitors including his lawyers. The second demand of the hungers strikers is the right to education and legal defense in their mother tongue (Kurdish), a right denied by the Turkish government. Many of the political prisoners have been unable to defend themselves in court for three years because they are not allowed to speak in Kurdish. We, the undersigned, invite the Turkish government to take immediate action to meet these demands and create the conditions for an honorable peace before anyone loses their lives. We believe that such an action on the part of the Turkish government will contribute greatly to peace in the Middle East during a period of great instability in the region. We invite the global public to encourage Turkey to resolve its Kurdish problem through democratic and peaceful means.

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Richard D Wolff

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). His work is available at and at

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