Death fast activist Özdemir: Our only option is to prevail

Merwan Memduh Özdemir is on day 9 of his death fast in Sulaymaniyah against the isolation. Özdemir said: “We will smash the Imrali system. We will do it at the cost of our lives. We have no other option.”

DTK Co-chair Leyla Güven went on a hunger strike on November 7 to break the severe isolation imposed upon Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Ocalan. Güven’s protest spread throughout all four parts of Kurdistan and among Kurds and allies living abroad, as well as prisoners in Turkey and Kurdistan.

The protests continue effectively in Bashure (Southern) Kurdistan as well. One week after Guven went on her hunger strike, alternating and nonalternating hunger strikes were launched in the HDP Hewler representation office and in Maxmur, and then later in Sulaymaniyah and Kelar, growing the resistance. The resistance entered a new phase when 30 PKK and PAJK prisoners went on a death fast. On May 14, a young man from Hakkari named Merwan Memduh Ozdemir went on a death fast in Sulaymaniyah in Bashure Kurdistan to join the resistance. Özdemir is on day 9 of his death fast, and is the only death faster not in prison right now.


Özdemir said every inch of Kurdistan’s land is a ground for struggle and added:

“A death fast is not actually an act of death. This form of resistance is an act of recreating life and achieving freedom. I have thought long and hard on this protest. At a time of such heights of resistance, deciding on such an action is to reach nirvana. Our Leader has been under a strict isolation for a long time. There has been a serious struggle to break the isolation imposed upon our Leader for a long time. Until now, I wasn’t able to participate in this struggle as much as I wanted as a Kurd. With this protest, I thought I can take my place in the middle of this resistance and this struggle and so I decided. This act of mine is also a self criticism. Where I arrived, I saw that people living in Kurdistan cannot escape the struggle in any way. Even if one wants to escape, the struggle and the resistance finds everyone, takes everyone by the arms.”


Özdemir stressed that they will break the isolation with their resistance and added the following analysis:

“The isolation imposed upon the Leader is not an isolation against an individual. What they want to isolate is the struggle and demand for freedom by the peoples of the Middle East. They want to suppress the demand for freedom, the struggle and its outcomes. This is an isolation against a philosophy for life. Our Leader’s institutional and societal identity is being isolated. With our protest, we want to say that we don’t accept this. I decided on such a protest to have my agency as a subject in the resistance displayed by friends who don’t accept this. I nurtured myself with the endless perspective Leader Apo proposes on being an individual, and I gave form to myself. For that I feel beholden to Leader Apo. I want to repay my debt by taking my place as a subject in the struggle and resistance for his freedom. Until we free him, even if we were to be martyred in this resistance we would still be in his debt I think. That is why we have no other demand but to break the isolation and free our Leader. We will free our leader and smash the Imrali system. We will do it at the cost of our lives. We have no other option.”


When asked why he launched such a protest in Sulaymaniyah, Merwan Memduh Özdemir said:

“Every province, every district, village, mountain, valley, every inch of Kurdistan’s lands has a historic meaning. What creates this historic and social meaning is the struggle waged on the land for centuries. The fact that every inch of Kurdistan is a ground of struggle is undeniable for history and society. There are places with particularities and historic backgrounds in regard to the struggle among the parts of Kurdistan. Southern Kurdistan has been a center of the struggle throughout history. There are places in Southern Kurdistan with their own particularities as well. Sulaymaniyah is one of those places. This is a place with a deep awareness of patriotism and strong social dynamics. The people of Sulaymaniyah themselves have given Sulaymaniyah the gift of leading the struggle for Kurdishness. Sulaymaniyah is a place where Kurdistan values are experienced strongly.”