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Daughter of Turkish hunger-striking MP appeals to public

Leyla Guven's daughter posted a photo as her mother's health deteriorates [Twitter]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2019

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Facing a 100-year prison sentence, pro-Kurdish MP Leyla Guven is struggling to drink even liquids after being on hunger strike for 77 days, her daughter has said
The daughter of jailed Turkish MP Leyla Guven has spoken out over her mother's deteriorating condition as she reaches the 77th day of a hunger strike.

Sabiha Temizkan posted a photo on twitter of her and her mother wit the caption, "Mum, don't leave me!". 

Guven, 55, has been on hunger strike since November. A member of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), Guven was arrested in January 2018 after criticising the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-majority Afrin, in northern Syria.

Guven was handed a prison sentence totalling over 100 years, on charges including membership and leadership of an armed organisation, terror propaganda and inciting people to hatred.

The Turkish authorities have accused the Democratic Society Congress - an alliance of civil society organisations, political parties and human rights defenders headed by Guven - of being linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Speaking to the BBC, Guven's daughter Sabiha Temizkan said she last saw her a week ago and was meant to see her again on Wednesday. 

"She couldn't make it to the visiting room. Her health is in a very poor condition," Temikzan said.

Guven has reportedly been consuming only sugary and salty liquids and B vitamins since November. She has lost 9kg and has been suffering from an array of health difficulties including nausea and severe headaches.

"The most critical thing at the moment is that she now has difficulty in drinking the liquid too," Temikzan said.

"It gives me unimaginable pain to see my mother going through this," she added. "But I cannot ask her to end the hunger strike because she says she is doing this for peace."

Temikzan posted a petition on Twitter demanding her release which has collected nearly 7,000 signatures.

Over 250 political prisoners have joined the indefinite hunger strike in solidarity with Guven. However, mention of Guven or the hunger strikers has been very limited in the Turkish press.

Thousands demonstrated on Saturday in Diyabakir, in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast in support of Guven.

The 55-year-old is striking in protest of the prison conditions for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. 

Ocalan is one of the founders of the outlawed PKK which has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and which is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

He has been serving a life sentence for treason in an island prison near Istanbul since his capture in 1999.

Guven's action is aimed at pressuring the government into allowing lawyers and family members to visit Ocalan, whose brother was finally allowed to meet him in jail a week ago. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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