I went along yesterday to photograph and talk to over a hundred Kurdish immigrants in Japan taking part in a 12 hour “Hunger Strike” outside the United Nations University in Omotesando in Tokyo. The strike was held to show solidarity with nearly 800 Kurdish political prisoners in 38 jails in Turkey who have been on hunger strike for over 2 months.
The strike started at 8am and lasted until 8pm and was part of an international day of action by Kurdish people to draw attention to the struggle of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey, Syria and Iraq and to call for the UN and international community generally to help in the protection of Kurdish cultural identity and secure the release the leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party or the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan who has been in jail over 12 years.
Though the PKK is called a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, among others, and has carried out a violent struggle for Kurdish independence since 1984. The leadership now seems intent on seeking Kurdish autonomy alone and some protections for the culture that is under threat from the countries Kurdistan shares geography with.
Kurdish people are nice people who have a tough time in Japan, and everywhere. It was a peaceful, sit down protest more or less ignored by the passers by. Which is a shame as The Kurds could do with some support if their culture is to survive.