AROUND THE WORLD: Political Prisoners Across Turkey Continue Hunger Strike As Repression Continues

More than 700 Kurdish and leftist political prisoners and 300 Kurdish people worldwide are on an indefinite hunger strike as prison conditions continue to worsen for leftist militants currently imprisoned in Turkey.

The hunger strike was first started by the formerly imprisoned HDP MP Leyla Guven in protest over the increasing isolation of the Kurdish Workers Party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Guven herself was imprisoned following her public critique of Turkish military actions in the predominately Kurdish town of Afrin.

Worldwide solidarity has been shown to the strike especially within Germany where Left Party and Communist Party of Germany activists joined with Kurdish protesters in numerous cities across Germany. Here in the UK, Imam Sis (a Kurdish rights activist) has been on hunger strike for 52 days and has been supported within his new home of Wales by Liz Saville Roberts MP, of Plaid Cymru. Over in France, Leyla Guven was awarded honorary citizenship of Paris after a motion was tabled and supported by French leftist opposition parties including the French Communist Party and France Insoumise.

The strike has been primarily driven by a desire to end the isolation and horrific conditions faced by Abdullah Ocalan who has been imprisoned since 1999. Since 2011 his lawyers have been refused access to him and have attempted to appeal over 700 times. This is not the first hunger strike in support of Ocalan. In October 2012 several hundred Kurdish political prisoners went on hunger strike for 68 days until Ocalan demanded for it to be stopped.

The hunger strike comes amid a wave of repression by the Erdogan regime and its benefactors against not only Kurdish activists but also against any form of opposition including numerous radical leftists. It also comes as a part of Turkeys long running history of political violence between right wing Salafists and nationalists against communist revolutionary organisations and pro-Kurdish groups.

Turkish politics lives in the shadow of the years of leadership in the late 70’s that cost the lives of around 5000 people from rival left wing and right wing paramilitaries. The scars of the war can still be seen today as this week saw the imprisonment in Germany of key Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front leader Musa Asoglu who is accused of masterminding the bombing of the United States embassy in 2013 as well as numerous attacks against Erdogans right wing Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party.

Asoglu’s Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group (commonly known as the DHKP-C) is part of the numerous armed opposition groups who have long opposed Erdogan and Turkeys authoritarian rightist governance which has been long plagued by numerous military coups and NATO’s stay behind operational forces known as the Gladio Organization. A 38 year old Maoist peoples war has also gripped the country mainly in the east Tunceli region. The current hunger strike can be seen as part of a long running, although not necessarily united, struggle by Kurds and leftists to topple the Erdogan regime.

The ongoing hunger strikes success hinges on the solidarity shown to oppressed groups in Turkey. A hunger strike in the year 2000 by numerous communist organisations with a total of 816 prisoners in 18 prisons against the holding of political prisoners in isolation eventually succeeded after the martyrdom of 122 people, some of whom died by self-immolation. The Turkish opposition faces a formidable challenge against the Erdogan government but its continued resolve will no doubt see it remain committed to ending the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The World’s Biggest Strike: Why 200 Million Indian Workers Decided To Strike

 

Around 200 million workers are estimated to have participated in the worlds largest general strike action in India against the “anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Modi government,”. The strike, which was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Union who was assisted by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has led to the detention of communist party leaders in West Bengal and Kerala where communist activists shut down transport services.

The strike has come amongst a notable growing trend of tension within India between the Modi government and the RSS far-right paramilitary against left-wing progressive activists in the country. Within Kerala, a communist stronghold state led by the Left Democratic Front, tensions have run especially high. Political murders have increased in recent years with the rise of both Hindu nationalist sentiment and communist party activism. Beatings, stabbings and hackings have dominated Kerala party politics.

The strike itself has seen the visible presence of a vast array of workers from factory workers to bus drivers to bank workers. It can be seen as a vast show of strength by the leftist linked Indian trade unions protesting against the recent neoliberal reforms of the Modi/BJP administration which has included the privatisation of the transport system as proposed in a recent government bill. Recent job losses from the economic crisis in India has led to rising support for the various movements that occupy the Indian left.

Indian left-wing politics is lead by its militancy. Amongst the strikers at the various demonstrations were cadres from the Maoist CPI (ML) Liberation, a former guerrilla outfit now involved in organising landless farmers and street vendors. The struggle in the rural areas over land rights has been especially militant over the years. The Indian government is currently fighting an on-going 50-year insurgency from Maoist rebels known as the Naxalites. The group has in more recent times come to prominence after it assassinated 24 Indian National Congress leaders in a single attack.

The strike has continued in certain areas since its callout by union heads. In Mumbai, transport workers are on an “indefinite” strike against the municipal government-owned Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. 32,000 workers in the city have shut down the transport service that usually accommodates over 4 million people.

The strike will no doubt worry president Modi who is only months away from running for re-election. Accusations of fascism and sectarianism have haunted the president who has been accused of repealing India’s secularist past by inflaming tensions between Muslims and Hindus. In 2002, the BJP government refused to intervene in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat which led to the deaths of over 2000 Muslims

With the strike uniting both rural and urban workers and official unemployment rising to 7.4 percent, the radical left in India has built some solid ground to challenge the anti-working class Modi government and their fascist para-militarist allies. Coming elections will be telling but the success of parliamentarian-ism has been questioned by young militant communist radicals who can now be seen at the frontlines of the struggle. Whether further revolutionary sentiment can be developed within India remains to be seen. However, with violence and militancy growing, revolutionary fervour appears to be expanding day by day.