FILM director Ken Loach, who has previously been outspoken in support of the London Kurdish Film Festival and the Kobane International Film Festival, has sent solidarity and support to the Kurdish hunger strikers.

His message is jointly signed by screenwriter Paul Laverty and Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan committee member, Sarah Glynn, who has previously written about the hunger strikers for the Sunday National.

The message states: ‘‘We want to express solidarity with over 7000 Kurdish hunger strikers and their demand that the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan be allowed his basic human right to visits by his family and his lawyers.

‘‘For so many to be driven to hunger strikes for basic human rights is a collective act of principled courage. It puts to shame all those states who refuse to enforce international law and end the brutal oppression suffered by Ocalan.

‘‘The importance of Ocalan is recognised by the trade union movement. The Durham Miners’ Gala chose ‘Freedom for Ocalan’ as their international campaign in 2018. Ocalan’s ideas on grassroots democracy, multiculturalism, and women’s rights are central to the inspiring social changes being carried out in the predominantly Kurdish autonomous region of Northern Syria.

‘‘He has repeatedly urged a peaceful and respectful settlement for the Kurds in Turkey, and, like Mandela in South Africa, is key to any future peace settlement.

‘‘Regardless of political allegiance, denial of a prisoner’s basic human rights can never be acceptable.

‘‘Yet again, our political institutions have failed, and it is left to ordinary people to take the lead in international solidarity.’’

The Kurdish hunger strikers are demanding that Ocalan be allowed his basic human right to visits by his family and his lawyers.

Ocalan is recognised as their leader by millions of Kurds. His vision of a better future, and especially the ideas expounded in his prison writings, has been the main inspiration behind social changes that are creating a new system based on grassroots democracy, building bridges between different ethnic groups, and that are ensuring women can take a full part in society.

In the last two decades, Ocalan has made repeated attempts to negotiate a peaceful and respectful future for the Kurds in Turkey. His role is regarded as vital to any peace settlement between the Kurds and the Turkish government.

Support for Ocalan extends well beyond the Kurdish community, including the trade union movement.

Ocalan’s isolation contravenes European Human Rights legislation, the UN Mandela Rules for the minimum treatment of political prisoners, and Turkey’s own constitution.

Most of the 7000 Kurds who have gone on indefinite hunger strike are political prisoners in Turkish jails, where their protest actions are met by a harshening of the prison regime, but there are individuals and groups in many of the places where Kurds have settled, including Imam Sis, pictured below, in Wales and three hunger strikers in London.

The National:

Fourteen of the hunger strikers have based themselves in Strasbourg because they believe that the Council of Europe and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture can and should be acting to help. Yesterday Leyla Guven, who started the hunger strike, had gone without food for 157 days.

Imam Sis and the hunger strikers in Strasbourg have starved for 118 days. They are bedridden, but also suffer terrible insomnia. Their internal organs have undergone permanent damage, they have are experiencing pain and discomfort. Visitors say they don’t like to talk about their health – only about the cause that they have put their lives on the line for. They will tell you that they are prepared to die so that others may live in freedom.

The hunger strikers say they have taken this extreme step because all other measures have been ignored. They are calling on the world to take action and they are putting their trust in the Council of Europe and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to act to support basic human rights. They are prepared to take their hunger strike through to the end. They do not want to die, but time is running out.