Yaşasın Ölüm Orucu Direnişimiz! (Long live our death fast resistance!)
Sunday, June 12 2022 at 4 pm, NewYorck at Bethanien
Discussion event: Death fast resistance as a means of political struggle “Our death fast resistance is the strongest form of expression of the struggle about independence and freedoms. And it will last…”
Sibel Balaç and Gökhan Yıldırım who are imprisoned in Turkish jails, have been on hunger strike since December 2021, which they have now converted into a death fast. Another revolutionary prisoner, Özgür Karakaya, has been on a hunger strike for 43 days against the usurpation of his right to bail. Özgül Emre, who is imprisoned in German jails, has been on indefinite hunger strike to protest the wearing of prison uniforms. In a hunger strike, one does not eat anything beside sugar and b12 supplements. In the case of death fast resistance, which means indefinite hunger strike, either the demands of one will be met, or the person will die from malnutrition. In political terms, death fast means: either justice or death!
The most well-known example of such is the struggle of Irish Republicans. Bobby Sands and other Irish revolutionary prisoners went on hunger strike in 1981 to protest the removal of Special Category Status which exclude the revolutionary prisoners to wear prison uniforms. In Turkey, in 1980 under the fascist military junta, 4 revolutionaries died as a result of indefinite hunger strike to protest the introduction of prison uniforms. In both cases, the hunger strikes were a material success, as still neither in 32 counties nor in Turkey, revolutionary prisoners have to wear prison uniforms. Although, beside the material gains, the core idea lies somewhere else: choosing death to preserve one’s identity, integrity and dignity is a victory for every human being.
Today there are thousands of political prisoners all over the world. Political prisoners are mostly held in conditions of solitary confinement, where they are totally isolated from other detainees and have very limited access to the outside world. The reason for solitary confinement has multiple faces. One of them is to detach the prisoner from the social production. A person is a not a mere biological being: we, as humans, are social entities and we are only able to flourish in a social context. Solitary confinement is one of the most dehumanizing ways of torture.
In Turkey, in 1996 and between 2000-2007, more than 130 revolutionaries died to protest the introduction of isolation prisons instead of dormitory type of prisons. In a solitary confinement, one’s own body is the only tool to oppose those inhumane conditions. Hunger strikes and death fasts are one of the most effective forces that a prisoner can have, where the body becomes the weapon.
In this event, we want to present and discuss with you the history and motivations for death fast as a political means of struggle. We want to rise questions as: What is death?
Why one converts a hunger strike into a death fast. Why is this an important tool in the political struggle, especially for prisoners?
A comrade who participated in the death fast resistance in Turkey in the year of 1996 will be with us and give us insights of the process. For this event we will provide translations of a series of articles about death fast resistance from Halk Okulu (People’s Academy) magazine.