A group of over 100 Kurdish fighters from the Syrian city of Kobani have launched a hunger strike in protest at their detention by authorities in Turkey.
According to reports on Tuesday, as many as 160 Syrian Kurds have been detained for nine days in the Turkish town of Suruj. The fighters are said to be members of the Democratic Union Party, which is the main Syrian Kurdish party and affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is a Kurdish organization that was until 2013 involved in an armed militancy against Turkey for independence.
“They are being held without any charge being laid against them, in the greatest judicial uncertainty,” Ibrahim Ayhan, an MP from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), said, adding, “It’s a drama.”
A local official also reported that the Kurdish fighters had been detained on a routine identity check in the area.
Meanwhile, the families of the detained fighters gathered outside the detention site and called for their release.
“I am here for my son. He has been detained and I am not even authorized to visit him,” said Fadile Sukriato, a refugee from Kobani, saying, “They are accused of nothing, they have not been put on trial, why are they in this prison?”
This comes as Turkish Kurds have been voicing their concern over what they call Ankara’s cooperation with Takfiri militants to carry out a massacre in Kobani. They are also angry at the government for preventing them from crossing into neighboring Syria to join the fight against the ISIL terrorists.
Turkey also continues to block the supply of military equipment and reinforcements for the Kurdish fighters defending the border city.
Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, and its surroundings have been under attack since mid-September, with the ISIL militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages.
Over 400 people have reportedly been killed in weeks of heavy battle in Kobani. The reports also say that intense fighting over the strategic town has forced over 200,000 people to take refuge in neighboring Turkey.