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Activist doctor says after examination deputy on hunger strike is in critical condition

Kurdish deputy Leyla Güven

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, a renowned rights activist and a doctor of forensics, has examined Leyla Güven, a deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been on a hunger strike to protest the isolation of the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and found her condition to be critical, the Mesopotamia news agency reported on Wednesday.

Fincancı, who is also the head of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV), examined Güven on the 105th day of her hunger strike at Güven’s home in Diyarbakır.

Speaking to reporters following the examination, Fincancı said Güven suffers from loss of weight and weakness as expected from someone who has been on a hunger strike for 105 days. She said tissues in her brain and her nerves are yet not damaged because she has been taking vitamin B tablets, yet there are many risks for her health.

“Both due to her age and medical condition, there is need to be really careful. As the damage in her body proceeds to the muscles, there could be a problem in her heart muscles. There is such a risk,” she said.

Fincancı called on Turkish authorities to eliminate the conditions that prompted Güven as well as more than 300 others in Turkish jails to go on a hunger strike before serious disabilities or deaths take place.

“We want the end of isolation [in prisons] as soon as possible and people [on hunger strike] not to die,” she added.

Güven, who was recently released from prison, has been on a hunger strike demanding that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan be allowed to meet with his lawyers.

Öcalan has been imprisoned since 1999, while the PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 demanding more rights for the Kurdish minority.

Last November Fincancı, was given the Hessian Peace Prize at a ceremony in the German city of Wiesbaden for her efforts in the rehabilitation of torture victims as well as for her research and documentation of torture, according to a statement from the award committee.

Fincancı’s TİHV was one of the first human rights organizations established in Turkey following the 1980 military coup. She is also a leading international expert on torture documentation and a former member of the executive committee of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).

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