Turkey's Kurdish question
Turkey's Kurdish questionHundreds of Kurdish prisoners go on hunger strike to demand reform.
Seven hundred and fifteen Kurdish political prisoners are on a hunger strike in 48 Turkish prisons. Many of the inmates belong to Turkey’s main Kurdish party, the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party. The Turkish government says they have ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 28-year armed struggle for Kurdish independence. The prisoners want jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan released from solitary confinement, as well as the right to use the Kurdish language in courtrooms and schools.
Turkey’s justice minister has urged prisoners to end their hunger strike, but activists say the story has received little media attention.
Clashes between the army and the PKK have intensified in the past year, with more than 700 deaths reported. Critics of the government say that the conflict has reached a stalemate and government initiatives to address Kurdish demands have failed.
In this episode of The Stream, we speak to:
Director, Center for Turkish Studies, Middle East Institute
Kadir Ustun @KadirUstun
Research Director, SETA Foundation
Koray Çalışkan @koraycaliskan
Associate Professor, Boğaziçi University
What do you think? Many hail Turkey as a role model for democracy in the region, but does the country’s treatment of its Kurdish minority call that into question? Leave your comments below.