Plaid Cymru politicians who have been supporting Kurdish Welsh hunger striker Imam Sis have hailed a landmark foreign policy victory following the news that Turkey has agreed to meet their core demands.
The news was delivered by Leyla Güven, who was the first to commence a hunger strike 200 days ago.
Imam Sis, who lives in Newport, had refused food for 159 days as he, along with thousands of fellow Kurdish campaigners, demanded the end to the solitary confinement of Kurdish Leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Plaid Cymru pressed the Welsh Government to intervene on Mr Sis’ behalf, which they eventually did by writing to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt was also contacted directly by a group of 50 MPs and Assembly Members, which included all Plaid Cymru elected members, who appealed to him to intervene.
The Foreign Secretary replied to Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts, saying he had asked Turkey to comply with the findings on a report into the conditions in which Mr Öcalan was held.
Commenting on the news, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow International Relations Minister Delyth Jewell AM said:
“I am delighted that the Kurdish hunger strikers have secured victory in their campaign to end the solitary confinement of Abdullah Öcalan.
“Many of them have sacrificed their long-term health in order to secure justice for their leader; it’s such a relief that they will not have to sacrifice their lives as well.
“My constituent Imam Sis has gone 159 days without food and faces a difficult battle to recover, but I know he will gain strength from the support of well-wishers from across the UK.”
Delyth Jewell AM who represents South Wales East in the Welsh Assembly added:
“While the campaign was an international one, we in Wales played a crucial part by putting pressure on the relevant actors to do the right thing.
“The Welsh Assembly passed a motion in support of the Kurds in March, and then the Welsh Government International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan appealed on behalf of Imam Sis to the UK Foreign Secretary.
“Jeremy Hunt then wrote to my colleague Liz Saville Roberts MP to confirm he had in fact called on Turkey to comply with the findings of a report that found his confinement conditions breached human rights laws.
“I’d like to thank everyone who played a part in this campaign, from the Plaid Cymru activists who have been supporting Imam in the Newport Kurdish Centre, to politicians across the board who have saved lives by acting decisively.
“My hope is that formal peace negotiations can now resume between Turkey and representatives of the Kurdish nation in order to bring long-term peace for a people who have spent centuries fighting for their lives.”