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Kurdish man in critical state

300 in hunger strike over Turkish state’s treatment of Kurdish leader

Support for Imam Şiş, the Kurdish activist living in Newport, has grown as his hunger strike in solidarity with jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan reaches the limits of human endurance.

Alongside 300 of his compatriots, Imam is on an indefinite hunger strike to protest the Turkish state’s treatment of Öcalan, who has been held mostly in solitary confinement by the Turkish government since 1999 and denied access to lawyers and family.

Imam began his hunger strike on 19 December and, at the time of writing (mid-May), his situation was becoming desperate with friends and supporters fearing for his life and calling for urgent action by the UK government.

Among other attempts to raise the issue publicly, several marches have been held in Cardiff. The latest was a colourful, musical and vibrant march on 11 April which halted traffic in the city centre. There was a display of Kurdish dancing and there were tributes from trade unionists and politicians from a wide range of the political spectrum.

Welsh assembly member Delyth Jewell of Plaid Cymru said: ‘I am proud to call Imam a friend. It is impossible not to be inspired by him. We in Wales have a tradition of calling out injustice internationally. When people from other parts of the world come to Wales to make their home, we are enriched, and when they suffer, we suffer, too. Wales has already stood up for the Kurds. It’s time for the UK government to do the same’.

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