On leaving the Kurdish hunger strikers in Strasbourg

2 of the hunger strikers, Gulustan and Kardo


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?


And Ocalan?

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


Sarah Glynn

Amsterdam Airport

26th January 2019




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