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Kurdish activists call Turkey hunger strike over jailed leader's fate

The PKK, listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies, said its latest attack was in response to Ocalan's 'continued isolation'
Kurdish campaigners announce their hunger strike in Diyarbakir, south east Turkey, under a poster of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of Kurdish Workers' Party on 31 August, 2016 (AFP)

Kurdish campaigners in Turkey announced a hunger strike Wednesday to protest the lack of updates about the welfare of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been denied visitors since summer 2015.

Around 50 politicians and activists, including MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), told journalists in Diyarbakir, south east Turkey, that they would stop eating from 5 September.

Ocalan is one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which resumed a three-decade-long insurgency against the Turkish state last year, following the collapse of a two-year truce. 

He is serving a life sentence for treason in an island prison near Istanbul. 

Since the collapse of the ceasefire, he has not been permitted visits from lawyers or supporters.

Some people shouted pro-PKK slogans during the gathering in Diyarbakir - a majority Kurdish city among the areas targeted in a military offensive last winter aimed at trying to flush the rebels out of Turkey's southeast.

A poster of Ocalan hung over a building in the city but was later removed on the orders of the police.

Last week, 11 police officers were killed and dozens wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck near a police building in the flashpoint town of Cizre, about 260 kilometres east of Diyarbakir.

The PKK said it carried out the attack in retaliation for Ocalan's "continued isolation" and lack of information about his welfare.

The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

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