- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 September 5 , 2003 

Hungry for Action: Strikers in Yerevan join international Kurdish protests

Wearing vest that say "hunger strike", Kurds in Armenia have joined an international protest.

On September 1 members of Armenia's Kurdish community joined comrades world wide in protesting treatment of the imprisoned leader of the Labor Party of Kurds (LPK), Abdullah Ocalan.

Protests are to be carried out for three months, in objection to what Ocalan's followers call life-threatening treatment by Turkish doctors. The Kurds claim doctors have given Ocalan chemicals that cause his health to deteriorate.

Twenty-five Kurds of Armenia joined the protest in a hunger strike at their Yerevan office under the slogan "The freedom of our leader is our freedom".

Zafic Khodoyan, 52, left her family and household in the Armavir region to join her comrades in Yerevan for the hunger strike.

For Khodoyan it is the third time she has participated in such a strike. She vows that she and other women are ready to strike as often as needed.

"We just want to defend our leader. We want to defend our rights," the woman says.

The head of the LPK Caucasian office Denis Baran says that Ocalan, who is in custody on Imraly Island, in the Sea of Marmara, is getting worse day by day.

The 54-year-old Kurdish leader has been in prison since February 15, 1999, convicted of high treason and terrorism.

Turkey considered the Kurdish leader and his party a threat to its national security for their activity to create an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey and parts of neighboring countries.

A Turkish court convicted Ocalan of high treason and sentenced him to death.

Ocalan appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights, and Turkey, which is seeking EU membership, has agreed to await its judgment.

During his latest meeting with his lawyers Ocalan said that he was injected with preparations that contained damaging chemical components. Ocalan demanded that international independent doctors take part in his medical examination.

"Our basic demand is to force international organizations to send a group of specialists to Ocalan and bring our leader out of political isolation," says Baran, who is among the strikers.

"If Ocalan's health and prison conditions are not improved, there will be unpredictable consequences," Baran stated.

Further, Kurds are demanding that Turkish authorities stop hostilities towards Kurdish people. LPK says it will give Turkey three more months to hold negotiations with the Kurds. If Turkey does not agree, the Kurds say they will declare war.

"If the demands of the Kurdish people are not met, the Turkish government and Turkish people will find themselves in undesirable conditions. The Kurdish people want peace but we are ready to fight" Baran says.

In all there are about 50 million Kurds throughout the world. About 40, 000 Kurds live in Armenia.

The participants of the hunger strike in Yerevan said they planned to hold their protest action in one of the Yerevan squares, but the Yerevan authorities rejected their appeal.

The members of the City Council say that there is no appropriate place for the demonstration at present as construction is going on everywhere, including Republic Square and Opera Square.

Ocalan supporters say they will launch a series of actions everywhere from September 1 to December 1.


According to Agnes
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Wooly work

Near her home in the center of Yerevan,Flora Sarkissyan, like many Armenian housewives after the season of sheep shearing, prepares wool that will provide warmth when a sunny September day is but a memory.



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