Several Kurdish lawmakers and thousands of prison inmates in Turkey have ended their hunger strike after a call from jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, one of the MPs said on Sunday, 200 days after the protest was launched. Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven began a hunger strike in November in a bid to end Ocalan’s years of isolation by securing him regular access to his family and lawyers. “Comrades who have committed themselves to hunger strikes and death fasts, I expect you to end your protest,” Abdullah Ocalan said in a statement read out by one of his lawyers in Istanbul, four days after they visited him for the second time this month. One of the MPs who had been on hunger strike said at a news conference in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey, that the protest was ending in response to Ocalan’s call. The resumption of lawyers’ visits came a month before a mayoral election re-run in Istanbul, prompting speculation of steps towards a new peace process four years after Ankara’s talks with Ocalan on ending conflict in the southeast of the country fell apart. However, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has denied there is any connection. Ocalan is the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and United States. He has been held in an island prison since Turkish special forces captured him in Kenya in 1999 and is revered by
Turkey and the United States have been at odds on several fronts including Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, which cannot be integrated into NATO systems. Washington says it would jeopardise Turkey’s role in building Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, which it says would be compromised by S-400s.