Conflict & Justice

Abdullah Ocalan urges Kurds to end 68-day hunger strike


A Kurdish man holds up a flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during Noruz spring festival in the Lebanese capital Beirut on March 21, 2012.


Joseph Eid

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party, has convinced his followers to end their 68-day hunger strike demanding better conditions for him and more rights for Kurds in Turkey. 

Around 700 members of the party, also known as the PKK, were participating in the strike, Agence France Presse reported

Ocalan was reportedly having talks with Turkish intelligence agency officials, according to Reuters. In September, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said more talks were possible.

"This action has achieved its goal. I want them to stop their action immediately," Ocalan, who is serving a sentence for treason in solitary confinement, said in a statement. His request was communicated by his brother Mehmet, who was allowed to meet him in jail despite an 18-month ban on visitors.

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Turkey's deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc welcomed the end of the protest, as the government feared that any deaths as a result of the hunger strike would incite more violence.

"They did a right thing ... They did not upset the Turkish people," he said, according to the Times of India

Around 40,000 people have lost their lives in the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK militant group, which is designated a terrorist organization in Turkey, BBC News reported.

The PKK is fighting for a Kurdish ethnic homeland, and has waged a guerilla campaign in Turkey for the last 25 years.