Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi

The Letter of Faysal Sariyildiz

Posted on: 17/11/2012

Below is the letter of imprisoned BDP MP, Faysal Sarıyıldız, who has been on hunger strike in Diyarbakır D Type Prison since October 15, 2012. The original piece was published in the daily Ozgur Gundem on 15th of November:

The hunger strike initiated by the Kurdish political prisoners on September 12th is not in conflict with existing laws, but puts forth two legitimate demands which are key to solving the Kurdish problem. I got involved in the strike on its 34th day, at a time when merely watching those on strike became unbearable. In the current stage of the hunger strike, weight loss has become evident, the skin has taken on the colour of a straw paper, the cheeks have collapsed inward, and the eye sockets have sunken. However, it is also a stage when the understanding, morale and consciousness of those who resist have reached their peak.

The intersecting life stories of 7 friends with whom I have been in the same section and of 3 companions who started the hunger strike later give an idea of the sociological structure of the Kurdish political movement. There are friends who joined the guerrillas from university, the village, or the city and who then were arrested later. There are friends who are members of the BDP Central Executive Committee and the City Council. There are friends who come from institutions, marches, and jobs. These people are from all walks of Kurdish society and their hearts are beating with the same passion, full of anger against the system of opression and exploitation. In short, there is a structure wherein the paradigm of a democratic society has started to crystallize naturally on the bodies of the activists themselves and offers a clear indication of emerging success.

As of this writing, November 13th, my friends are on their 63rd day, and I am on the 31st day of the hunger strike. So when I started, they were at the point where I am now. And now they are at a point where irrecoverable damage is about to begin in their bodies. The comrades Dijwar, Mahir and Dr. Cihan can no longer take in liquids. Dijwar’s weight has dropped to 59 kg from a starting weight of 74 kg. Using his natural authority, a friend who is accompanying us forces them to take liquid. “A revolutionist must protect his awareness and stance, even until the last moment” he says.

Though our friend Dr. Cihan, who has dropped to 53 kilos, fights relentlessly against the biological realities, his senses of hearing and sight are fading a little more each day. Sometimes, some of our friends develop an increasing sensitivity to noise. When Cihan, while listening to the news, misunderstands the word “working” as the word “conflict”, Pir Ali who has been our source of morale and motivation says “When the deaf can’t hear, they just make something up!’ After that a low laughter rises from the friends lying in their bunk beds.

These days, every friend’s body is a battlefield where biological truth takes on a fierce fight with conscience, virtue and metaphysics. Although the conscious tells the body “Please don’t embarrass me,” mostly it cannot enforce this command. In the early stages of the strike, all friends together spent some time pacing the room, but the number of those who can stand now is decreasing every day. The ones who go out to pace soon come back to their cells because of severe lurching in their steps. As you might guess, the ventilation area where we do our walks is having some of its quietest days. Comrade Özgür, as he climbs up 24-steps, rests 3 times, takes a break and crouches down on the steps without letting us see. He waits for his body to recover from the fallen blood pressure.

Our friend Mazlum (Tekdağ), looking like a hero from the Legend of Kawa with his beard piled up on his face after two months, has been carrying out the diplomatic leg of our strike since it began. Mazlum has a seat on the central executive committee of a political party which is running the most effective opposition against the despotic Erdogan Sultanate. There is visible decrease in his performance, though he says “That is just how it seems to you.” He requires a wheelchair to go meet his lawyer because he cannot stand. However, he does not want to lose face due to his condition and so he says, “Friends, it is not fair that I always get to visit the lawyer. You go.” Of course, we understand!

Comrade Mahir was sentenced to 16 years by a court that said “He will die on hunger strike anyway.” Despite his thick black beard, his paper white face, and a young body that has turned into a thin twig, he takes on as part of his mission to explain our strike and get word to the outside, as much as he gives himself to the strike itself. He tries to explain our goals to everyone from the outside, whether doctors, officials or anyone else. However, now it is difficult for him to speak. He often swallows as he speaks and he told the last doctor that “My time has come, if I lose consciousness please don’t interfere.” Then he gave a proper reminder of medical ethics, the Hippocratic oath, ethical responsibility, the dictates of conscience and the Malta Convention.

I do not think any of the doctors understand us, though they watch us closely. After chatting a bit, the first response of the young medical officers who have just started working in this region is as if they have just stumbled onto a new continent.. Half of this country’s awareness has been manipulated and we see how the other half is being explained with living examples. The sadness on a young western doctor’s face when he learnt that there was someone among us who had graduated from the same faculty as him was powerfully moving.

Comrade Salih is the youngest, the most cheerful and the sleepiest of our group. He tries not to show how dejected he feels about his hair starting to fall out early. He is having the hardest time with Erdogan’s provocative and irresponsible statements. Each time the Prime Minister opens his mouth, Salih tries to give an answer. However, he has learnt that there is no place for cursing and coarse language in our tradition. He says he could not bear it if, just because of his youth, one of us fell before he did.

In case the government tried to intervene in or manipulate our strike, we didn’t accept offers of treatment and medical checks from the prison administration until the 52th day. But then, we started allowing medical measurements of blood pressure, pulse and weight as a result of the strong urging from the BDP delegation, including our co-chairs, during their visit. The BDP has made every effort toward a mediation that ensures the hunger strikers are properly construed and that the seriousness of the situation is understood. But these efforts have hit the chauvinistic and despotic walls of the ruling power. The BDP states that no one can keep silent while anxiously awaiting the death knells from the prisons, and as a consequence, seven members of parliament and one mayor of the BDP have gone on indefinite hunger strike on the outside.

In the meantime, the loss of perception and concentration in all our friends is painfully evident. First, the theoretical books disappeared from their bedsides, then the novels.Currently, they can read the newspapers only to follow political affairs and the latest news regarding the hunger strikes. And the television is switched on only to watch the main news bulletins.

Yes, dear reader. While you read this letter, Mazlum, Dijwar, Mahir; or in the next ward Tayip, Fırat, Ferhat; or some of our thousands of friends who are resisting in numerous prisons scattered throughout the country, may have passed the critical point that marks one’s ability to return to a healthy life. I don’t have the heart to mention death. We see, through experience, how a body wears away, how it melts drop by drop. They do not have any expectations from the fascist system. They know what it means to be left to the mercy of the system, what it means to hope for help from the system. They know it from the ugly nature of a power they are all too familiar with, from the recent past of our prisons, from the massacres carried out by the state itself under the name ‘Return to Life’; and they want the people to act with this awareness in mind. Only as our people march in the streets and take ownership of the movement, as they advance upon the despotic system, can we save them. This ownership will be the source of life, their water and their bread. Taking ownership is possible only through distracting the system, through pushing the system to change, through partaking in the ranks of resistance in every field. Standing by the imprisoned resisters who do not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of their people and their leadership, taking ownership of the resisters and their lives now rises before us as a historical, ethical and political duty.

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