Members and co-chairs of HDP Sezai Temelli (centre right) and Pervin Buldan (centre left) stage a protest in solidarity with MP Leyla Guven, on hunger strike since November 8, near Istanbul's Taksim square on February 11, 2019. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish police prevented a demonstration in Istanbul on Monday by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in support of hunger striking lawmaker Leyla Guven.
A group of about 40 HDP members tried to stage a march down Istiklal Avenue to Taksim Square but were blocked by riot police.
MP Leyla Guven has been on hunger strike for 96 days protesting the isolation of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and prison conditions in general. She began per protest behind bars after she was arrested for her opposition to Turkey’s military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin.
In very ill health, she was released from prison on January 25, but has continued her hunger strike.
Turkish anti-riot police officers surround and block members and deputies of HDP near Istanbul's Taksim square on February 11, 2019. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP
Protesters were wearing vests with Guven’s image. Hemmed in by police, they staged a short sit-in before dispersing, according to AFP.
“This struggle is the struggle of all Turkey,” said HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli, adding that they are there to raise their voices alongside Guven’s.
He compared Ocalan’s isolation in his island prison to Turkey’s situation today, saying the whole country is “under a blockade” where human rights are ignored.
Temelli’s co-chair Pervin Buldan said the rulers of Turkey should know that HDP will not stop their struggle.
HDP will not compromise on its principles, she said in comments directed at Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu who had warned on Sunday the party’s demonstration would be banned.