Ken Loach sends solidarity to 7000 Kurdish hunger strikers

Film director Ken Loach sends solidarity and support to the Kurdish hunger strikers.

Film director Ken Loach, who has previously been outspoken in support of the London Kurdish Film Festival and the Kobane International Film Festival sends solidarity and support to the Kurdish hunger strikers.

His message, below, is jointly signed by screenwriter Paul Laverty and Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan committee member, Sarah Glynn.

"We want to express solidarity with over 7000 Kurdish hunger strikers and their demand that the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan be allowed his basic human right to visits by his family and his lawyers.

For so many to be driven to hunger strikes for basic human rights is a collective act of principled courage.  It puts to shame all those states who refuse to enforce International law and end the brutal oppression suffered by Ocalan. 

The importance of Ocalan is recognised by the trade union movement. The Durham Miners’ Gala chose ‘Freedom for Ocalan’ as their international campaign in 2018. Ocalan’s ideas on grassroots democracy, multiculturalism, and women’s rights are central to the inspiring social changes being carried out in the predominantly Kurdish autonomous region of Northern Syria. He has repeatedly urged a peaceful and respectful settlement for the Kurds in Turkey, and, like Mandela in South Africa, is key to any future peace settlement.

Regardless of political allegiance, denial of a prisoner’s basic human rights can never be acceptable.

Yet again, our political institutions have failed, and it is left to ordinary people to take the lead in international solidarity.

Ken Loach, Paul Laverty, Sarah Glynn


The Kurdish hunger strikers demand that the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, be allowed his basic human right to visits by his family and his lawyers.

Over 7000 Kurds have responded to the world’s failure to take heed of this by going on indefinite hunger strike. Most are political prisoners in Turkish jails, where their protest actions are met by a harshening of the prison regime, but there are individuals and groups in many of the places where Kurds have settled, including Imam Şiş in Wales (see attached image), and - as of 14 March - three hunger strikers in London. 14 of the hunger strikers have based themselves in Strasbourg because they believe that the Council of Europe and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture can and should be acting to help. As of today (13 April) Leyla Guven, who started this hunger strike, will have gone without food for 157 days. Imam Sis and the hunger strikers in Strasbourg have starved for 118 days.

They are bedridden, but also suffer terrible insomnia. Their internal organs have undergone permanent damage, they have all sorts of pain and discomfort, and they know that their bodies could give up at any time. But they don’t like to talk about their health – only about the cause that they have put their lives on the line for. They will tell you – if you are lucky enough to see them, because their strength for meeting visitors is very limited - that they are prepared to die so that others may live in freedom.