Public Letter to Assembly Members // Llythyr at Aelodau’r Cynulliad 06/03/2019

Welsh below

Dear Assembly Members,

We are writing to you on behalf of the #Fast4Apo campaign, being run from Cardiff and Newport. Kurdish activists around the world – including Newport resident Ilhan Sis (İmam Sis) and HDP member of the Turkish parliament, Leyla Güven – have been on hunger strike in response to the conditions of isolation under which Kurdish political leader, Abdullah Öcalan, is imprisoned. At the time of writing (06/03/19), Ilhan Sis is on day 80 of his hunger-strike and Leyla Güven is on day 119.

Öcalan’s lawyers have been denied access since 2011 and he has been in solitary confinement since 1999. Other than a 10-minute visit from Mehmet Öcalan on 12th January of this year, no family member has been allowed to visit since 2016. The hunger-strikers are demanding that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture inspect Öcalan’s conditions at Imrali Prison , and for Turkish authorities to allow Öcalan’s lawyers access , keeping with his human rights under Turkish and international law.

The struggle of the Kurdish people resonates with the experience of the Welsh people: a stateless nation with its own language, often forgotten in the shadows of the more powerful nations in which it must sit. Many people in Wales have expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the Kurds, approximately 40 of whom taking part in a one-day solidarity fast on Monday 25th February. Some of us gathered at the Kurdish community centre in Newport and spent the day talking about the resilience of the people of Rojava, lamenting the position of the Kurdish people and – perhaps most importantly – dancing, singing and celebrating all that our cultures share and can learn from one another.

The campaign has already received official statements of support from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price and Plaid Cymru Shadow International Affairs & Culture Minister, Delyth Jewell. Delyth even went so far as to visit Ilhan Sis at the Kurdish Community Centre in Newport, which we encourage other AMs to do (119-121 Chepstow Rd, Newport, NP19 8BZ). Bethan Jenkins AM supportively raised the topic of Kurdish activists in Wales from the floor of the Senedd. The chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Osian Rhys has also issued a supportive statement on behalf of the organisation.

Support for the campaign to end the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan has also come from politicians in Westminster. Labour Party and Plaid Cymru MPs worked together to sponsor and support an Early Day motion on 9th January, showing concern for the wellbeing of the hunger-strikers and the “cruel isolation” of Abdullah Öcalan, and recommending “urgent dialogue” to avoid a catastrophe. This motion was backed by Welsh MPs Jo Stevens, Liz Saville Roberts, Ben Lake, Jonathan Edwards, and Hywel Williams, along with 39 other MPs from across the political spectrum.

The trade union movement has also supported the campaign; a motion was carried at the 2017 conference of the Trades Union Congress which called for not only the end of the conditions of solitary confinement but the release of Abdullah Öcalan, citing his importance in any prospect of a long-term peace settlement in the region.

Ilhan Sis is on day 80 of his hunger-strike. Leyla Güven is on day 119. They have been surviving on nothing but water and vitamin tablets. Even if they break the hunger strike now their health will be permanently affected. Nonetheless, they are determined to continue. In a statement issued on 27th February, Ilhan said,

“My own health is deteriorating; my heart rate is low and white blood cells have reduced leaving me open to infection and I have lost over 16kgs but I am determined to continue my protest.”

Their goal is to pressure the Turkish government into upholding Öcalan’s basic human rights by allowing him access to legal representation and contact with his family. To stress the point once again, Öcalan has not had access to a lawyer since 2011 and has been in isolation since 1999. Öcalan is viewed by many as vital in securing a peaceful, democratic solution to the crisis in Syria and the rights of the Kurdish people. To many of the Kurds and their allies who, as you read this, are fighting ISIS in Syria and look like they will soon defeat them, Öcalan is a direct inspiration. Öcalan has championed the philosophy and progressive politics of “democratic confederalism” which are now being put into practise in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. In this region a lively and productive democracy exists, built upon explicitly feminist and ecological foundations. That this exists in a region of the world so often associated with the oppression of women and autocratic politics is all the more incredible. Öcalan has been key in these developments. This – coupled with the illegal and immoral conditions of his internment by the Turkish state – is what motivates individuals like Ilhan Sis to take the stand they have. We ask you to stand with them by doing all you can to amplify their demands.

What the campaign in Wales is seeking is an official statement from the Senedd and Welsh Government stating a commitment to pressure the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture to visit Imrali Prison and demand that Turkey grant Abdullah Öcalan access to his lawyers and family. The Senedd and Welsh Government should also pressure Westminster to commit to these demands. We have already received considerable support from within the Senedd and hope that more AMs and the Assembly in general can add to the growing, global chorus of condemnation of the Turkish government in demanding that basic human rights be upheld. Turkey is a NATO member and a key ally of the UK and the EU. It is reprehensible that a nation with such close diplomatic ties to Wales be allowed to continue to engage in such atrocious behaviour without condemnation and pragmatic opposition. We also encourage AMs to individually contact the Committee for the Prevention of Torture , as Delyth Jewell AM has, in an official capacity.

We can help with the writing up of any such statement and believe this letter can be a starting point. We are working alongside Kurdish activists in Newport and can act as a go between for communication with the global hunger-strike campaign.

As a first step we ask that, if you support this campaign, you reply to us that you are happy for us to display your name underneath this publicly available version. We are seeking endorsements from AMs, MPs, MEPs, organisations, and public figures. Our local aim is to pressure the Welsh government but any support from outside of Wales is also very much welcome. We are also very interested in speaking to AMs, MPs, MEPs, and concerned individuals who may be interested in getting more directly involved with this campaign.

Kind regards,

#Fast4Apo #YmprydApo
Twitter: @Fast4Apo


Annwyl Aelodau Cynulliad,

Rydym yn ysgrifennu atoch ar ran ymgyrch #YmrprydApo sydd yn cael ei gynnal yng Nghaerdydd a Chasnewydd. Mae ymgyrchwyr Cwrdaidd yn rhyngwladol gan gynnwys dyn sydd yn byw yng Nghasnewydd – Ilhan Sis (İmam Sis) ac hefyd aelod HDP y blaid Cwrdaidd, Leyla Güven – ar streic newyn ers tro. Maent yn gwneud hyn er mwyn ymateb i’r cyflwr o ynysu y mae glwadwriaeth Twrci wedi ei orfodi ar arweinydd gwleidyddol y Cwrdiaid – Abdullah Öcalan yn y carchar. Ar hyn o bryd (06/03/19), mae Ilhan Sis ar y 80fed diwnod ei streic newyn a mae Leyla Güven ar ei 119 fed diwrnod.

Mae gwladwriaeth Twrci wedi gwadu mynediad Öcalan i’w gyfreithwyr ers 2011 a mae o wedi bod mewn “solitary confinement” ers 1999. Ar wahan i ymweliad 10 munud gan Mehmet Öcalan ar y 12fed o Ionawr y flwyddyn yma ar y 12fed o Ionawr, nid oes unrhyw aelod o’i deulu wedi cael caniatad i ymweld ag ef ers 2016. Mae’r rhai sydd ar streic newyn yn mynnu bod y Pwyllgor Ewropeaidd ar gyfer Atal Arteithio (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) ymweld ar gyflwr Öcalan’s yng ngharchar Imrali , ac ar gyfer yr awdurdodau Twrcaidd i ganiatau mynediad i gyfreithwyr Öcalan iddo , gan gadw at ei hawliau dynol yn ol cyfraith gwlad Twrci a cyfraith rhyngwladol.

Mae’r ymgyrch eisioes wedi derbyn datganiadau swyddogol o gefnogaeth gan arweinydd Plaid Cymru Adam Price ac aelod Plaid Cymru ar faterion rhyngwladol Delyth Jewell. Fe aeth Jewell i ymweld a Ilhan Sis yng Nghanolfan Gymunedol y Cwrdiaid yng Nghasnewydd – rhywbeth yr ydym ni yn annog Aelodau Cynulliad eraill i’w wneud hefyd (119-121 Chepstow Rd, Casnewydd, NP19 8BZ). Yn ddiweddar soniodd Bethan Sayed AC ynglyn a’r mater o ymgyrchwyr Cwrdaidd yng Nghymru ar lawr y Senedd. Mae cadeirydd Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, Osian Rhys wedi rhyddhau datganiad cefnogol ar ran y mudiad.

Mae cefnogiaeth i’r ymgyrch i roi derfyn ar ynysu Abdullah Öcalan hefyd wedi dod o du gwleidyddion yn San Steffan gyda ASau Plaid Cymru yn cydweithio er mwyn creu “Early Day Motion” ar y 9fed o Ionawr yn dangos pryder ynglyn â chyflwr y rhai sydd ar streic-newyn ac “ynysu creulon” Abdullah Öcalan gan argymell deialog ar frys i osgoi trychineb. Cafodd hwn ei gefnogi gan ASau Cymreig Jo Stevens, Liz Saville Roberts, Ben Lake, Jonathan Edwards, ac Hywel Williams, yn ogystal a 39 o ASau ar draws y sbectrwm gwleidyddol.

Mae’r mudiad undebau llafur wedi cefnogi’r ymgyrch gyda “motion” yn eu cynhadledd blynyddol yn 2017 sydd yn galw am derfyn i’r ynysu yn ogystal a rhyddhad a Abdullah Öcalan, gan nodi ei bwysigrwydd ytn nhermau unrhyw heddwch hir dymor yn y rhanbarth. Mae Ilhan Sis ar y 80fed diwnod ei streic newyn a mae Leyla Güven ar ei 119fed . Maent wedi bod yn goroesi ar dim ond dŵr a fitaminau. Hyd yn oed pe bawn nhw yn dod a’r streic newyn i derfyn rŵan fydd ei hiechyd wedi ei heffeithio am byth. serch hynny mae nhw yn benderfynnol i barhau. Mewn datganiad ar y 27fed o Chwefror dywedodd Ilhan:

My own health is deteriorating; my heart rate is low and white blood cells have reduced leaving me open to infection and I have lost over 16kgs but I am determined to continue my protest.”

Eu gôl yw i bwyso ar wladwriaeth Twrci tan iddynt rhoi hawliau dynol mwyaf sylfaenol i’w carcharor Öcalan gan ganiatau iddo cael cynrychiolaeth cyfreithiol a cysylltiad gyda’i deulu. Gan bwysleisio ar y owynt eto ag eto, mae Öcalan wedi bod heb fynediad at gyfreithiwr ers 2011 a wedi ei ynysu ers 1999. Mae llawer yn gweld Öcalan fel ffigwr hanfodol wrth sicrhau ateb heddychlon a democrataidd i’r creisis yn Syria ac hawliau i’r pobl cwrdaidd. I lawer y Cwrdiaid a’u cyngrheiriad sydd yn ymladd ISIS yn Syria a mae’n debyg y byddyn nhw yn eu goresgyn nhw’n fuan, iddyn nhw mae Öcalan yn ysbrydoliaeth uniongyrchol. Mae Öcalan wedi sefyll fyny dros yr athroniaeth a gwleidyddiaeth cadarnhaol ‘cydffedaralaeth ddemocrataidd’ sydd rŵan yn cael ei wireddu yn y Ffederasiwn Ddemocrataidd yng Ngogledd Syria. Yn y ranbarth yma y mae democratiaeth bywiog yn bodoli, wedi ei hadeiladu ar seiliau ffeminyddol ac ecolegol. Mae hyn yn bodoli mewn rhanbarth y byd sydd mor amal wedi ei gyplysu gyda gorthrwm merched a gwleidyddiaeth awtocrataidd yn ei wneud hyd yn oed mwy anhygoel. Mae Öcalan wedi bod yn hollol allweddol yn y datblygiadau yma. Mae hyn ynghyd a thriniaeth anfoesol ac anghyfreithlon gan gwladwriaeth Twrci – ydi be sy’n ysgogi unigolion fel Ilhan Sis i wneud y fath safiad. Rydym yn gofyn wrthoch i gyd-sefyll â nhw gan wneud popeth a gallwch chi i chwyddleisio eu galwadau.

Be mae’r ymgyrch yng Nghymru yn ei fynnu yw datganiad swyddogol gan y Senedd a Llywodraeth Cymru i bwyso ar y Pwyllgor Ewropeaidd dros Atal Arteithio (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) i ymweld a carchar Imrali a mynnu bod Twrci yn caniatau ymweiadau i Abdullah Öcalan i’w gyfreithwyr a’i deulu. Mae angen i’r Senedd a Llywodraeth Cymru bwyso ar San Steffan i ymrwymo i’r galwadau yma. Rydym wedi derbyn cefnogaeth sylweddol o fewn y Senedd eisioes ac yr ydym yn mawr obeithio y bydd mwy o ACau yng nghyffredinnol yn gallu ychwannegu eu llais at y cor rhynglwadol sydd yn condemnio gweithredoedd gwladwriaeth Twrci hwrth fynnu hawliau dynol sylfaenol cael eu cadw. Mae Twrci yn aelod o NATO ac yn gyngrhair allweddol i’r DU a’r UE. Mae’n aflan bod gwladwriaeth gyda cysylltiadau diplomataidd mor agos at Gymru yn cael eu caniatau i ymddwyn mor ddull mor afiach heb cael eu condemnio na gwrthwyneboadau pragmataidd. Rydym hefyd yn annog ACau i gysylltu yn unigol gyda’r “Committee for the Prevention of Torture” fel a gwnaeth Delyth Jewell AC, mewn capasiti swyddogol.

Gallwn gynorthwyo efo llunio datgaiand o’r fath a credu bod llythyr yn fan cychwyn. Rydym yn gweithio gyda ymgyrchwyr Cwrdaidd yng Nghasnewydd ac yn medru eich cysylltu gyda’r ymgyrch rhyngwladol dros y streic newyn.

Fel cam cyntaf rydym yn gofyn, os ydych yn cefnogi’r ymgyrch, atebwch y neges e-bost yma yn dweud eich bod yn fodlon i ni dangos eich enw o dan lythyr ar rhestr sydd ar gael yn gyhoeddus. Rydym yn ceisio cael cefnogaeth gan ACau, ASau, ASEau, Mudiadau a ffigyrau cyhoeddus. Ein hamcan lleol yw i bwyso Llywodraeth Cymru ond mae unrhyw gefnogaeth tu hwnt i Gymru yn cael ei groesawu. Gennym hefyd ddiddordeb mawr mewn siarad gyda Aelodau Cynulliad, Aelodau Seneddol a Aelodau Senedd Ewrop ac unigolion sydd yn poeni am y sefyllfa sydd yn barod i ymwneud yn fwy uniongyrchol gyda’r ymgyrch.

Yn gywir,

#Fast4Apo #YmprydApo
Twitter: @Fast4Apo

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