Raise Your Voice for Leyla: Not numbers but women and men fasting

The 33-page report by the Raise Your Voice for Leyla Initiative gives a face to those on hunger strike reminding everyone that they are not number but women and men. 

The Raise Your Voice for Leyla Initiative was launched on the 115th day of the hunger strike of HDP Hakkari MP Leyla Güven, on 2 March 2019.

It is composed of women rights defenders, activists, representatives of civil society organisations, Peace Mothers, Saturday Mothers, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, lawyers, journalists and members of parliament from United Kingdom, Argentina, Turkey and Kurdistan. 

They came together, subsequent to more than five thousand political prisoners went on hunger strike on 1 March, saying that “we defend life; we show solidarity with Leyla”.

The Initiative has published a report called ‘See the person behind the numbers’ in which it has collected a short bio and photos of many of the Kurdish prisoners on hunger strike demanding the end of isolation against Abdullah Öcalan.

The Initiative said about the report: “We believe that it is our humanitarian duty to present to you this document including short bios of prisoners who are on hunger strike and their last massages, and remind about humane conscientious, moral and legal responsibilities so that national and international dynamics are put into action with a view not to remain silent to and to put an end to this tragedy.”

The 33-page report gave a face to those on hunger strike reminding everyone that they are not number but women and men. 

Besê Özer

One of the prisoners on hunger strike is Besê Özer, and this is what the report writes about her. 

Besê Özer is from Lice district of Diyarbakır. She was detained by JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter Terrorism) in 1996 and she was imprisoned for life. She has been in prison for 23 years. She went on hunger strike on 26 December 2018. In her last message, Besê Özer said that the action is “a call to the essence of peoples’ reality, to its freedom. The people should say “‘No’, ‘Stop’, ‘Never’ to the isolation imposed upon on them. Turkish and Kurdish peoples: hear our call”. 


On 8 November 2018, Leyla, while being detained, was not taken to court and participated in her hearing via SEGBIS audiovisual system. She declared to the court that the people are being isolated based on the Imralı prison isolation system imposed on Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and that she went on indefinite and non-alternating hunger strike until the rights of Abdullah Öcalan to receive regular visits from his family members and lawyers and to correspondence through phone and mail that is recognised under domestic laws for all prisoners. Since that day, HDP MP Leyla Güven has been ignored by the state.