Former EP member detained for carrying vitamins for hunger strikers

November 15, 2012, Thursday/ 12:11:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Police detained a former member of the European Parliament (EP) late on Wednesday at the İstanbul Atatürk Airport for carrying vitamins intended for prisoners on a nationwide hunger strike without permission from Turkey.

The plane carrying Feleknas Uca, a former EP parliamentarian of Kurdish descent, from Cologne landed at the airport at around 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Security staff at the airport found 248 boxes of B1 vitamins during a search of her belongings and called teams from the İstanbul Police Department's counterterrorism unit. Uca said she brought the vitamins for the hunger strikers and was scheduled to fly to Diyarbakır from İstanbul.

Police then confiscated the vitamins and took Uca to a police station for questioning. Reports said Uca will be referred to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office after the police interrogation.

Hundreds of prisoners, most of whom are facing charges of or have been convicted of membership in the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) or its mother organization, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), have been on a hunger strike for the past 65 days. As well as improvements in the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, the strikers are demanding the right to receive education and address courts of law in their mother tongue, Kurdish.

The inmates are consuming sugared water and vitamins that will prolong their lives and the protest by weeks, but Turkey's main medical association has warned that fatalities are possible from around 60 days into the hunger strike.

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