Their bellies are empty, but their hearts are full.
As the kilogrammes fall away, so the morale keeps building,
And the smiles – can we ever forget those smiles?
Eleven men and three women putting their lives on the line
And for each one, nine others happy to be in their place
An ultimate act of will that throws down a challenge of vulnerability
What power is so strong that it can overthrow the most basic instinct for survival?
‘We starve because we love life’ – they tell us
We risk our own lives so our children can enjoy theirs
They are here for Ocalan, far away in a Turkish jail
Ocalan, who must be freed
But for now, a simple demand –
To make Turkey follow their own constitution and end his isolation
A simple demand, but no-one listens
They protest, and no one hears
They march and no one sees
They lobby and no one cares
So the world’s indifference has brought them to this
How many must die for the world to take notice?
What man can inspire such devotion?
His portrait looks down from a thousand walls
But this moustached uncle is no Stalin
His philosophy inspires deepest democracy and freedom
He gives us that Kurdish smile
For twenty years he has led the call for peace
Ready for the time when Turkey will respond with sincerity
He holds the key to the Kurdish question
But Turkey still guards the lock
I fly home to humdrum reality
And the enormity of what I have seen only gets harder to comprehend
But those fourteen men and women have revived my belief in humanity
Revolutionaries are not just figures in flickering black and white
They are struggling in Turkish prisons and Rojava villages
And in a non-descript community centre among the nineteenth century apartment blocks of Strasbourg
26th January 2019