A rally was held in Derry on Friday night in support of Kurdish hunger striker Leyla Güven MP. The Turkish MP has been on hunger strike since November in protest at her detention and the ongoing isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Speaking at the rally Hayleigh Fleming who chaired the event said
“We are here tonight in solidarity with Leyla Guven who is now over 70 days on hunger strike in a Turkish prison.
“Leyla was arrested last January, for openly and fairly criticising the Erdogan regime, and the illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin, in north-west Syria.
“Now remember, Leyla is a democratically elected MP facing 30 years imprisonment, for exercising her right to freedom of speech.
“The current courage and conviction being shown by the actions of Leyla Guven – are a protest of the unjustifiable policy of isolation that is being imposed on the Kurdish Worker’s Party Leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who has been imprisoned now for over 20 years.
“It’s important that we extend our solidarity to international struggles throughout the world, just as they stood with us across the world in 1981, during the hunger strikes in the H-Blocks.
“Our main speaker tonight Martina Anderson MEP , has just returned from visiting Leyla’s family and friends in Kurdistan, and was also refused entry to visit Leyla in prison.
“I would like to thank everyone for attending here tonight and also Ogra Shinn Féin for organising this demonstration.
“Sinn Féin have always been a party of international solidarity and know from our own political struggle the value and strength that international solidarity can provide.
“We have always held the cause of the Kurdish people close to us and believe they have a right to self-determination and to democratically decide their own future and now, more than ever, it is vital that we stand with them.
“The ongoing conflict in Syria has been used by opposition to wage an onslaught against the Kurdish people, who are defending their autonomy and their rights.
Kurdish fighters in the People’s Protection Units – the YPG and YPJ – are acting the biggest bulwark against the spread of ISIS.
“In order to achieve a just and lasting peace, the Turkish government must release Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan and also democratically elected Kurdish leaders currently imprisoned.
“Thank you for coming, solidarity with the people of Kurdistan.