Release all Political Prisoners Now – A Tribute to Helin Bölek; Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy

Sources say that altogether 31 imprisoned Kashmiri leaders and people were released yesterday, on the 246th day of arrest and detention following the August 5th abrogation of article 370 and partition of J&K. Out of the 31, 16 were released from prisons in UP and the rest from Srinagar Central jail. There is no formal information on the numbers or the release from the government, yet!

This respite comes after continuous and consistent campaigns for the release of political prisoners by civil liberties group in Kashmir and India. It must be noted that the Supreme Court of India that passed guidelines for release of undertrial prisoners on parole due to the Corona pandemic, was silent on political prisoners and detainees in jails, imprisoned under arbitrary detention laws like Public Safety Act (PSA) or draconian legislations like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

It is indeed a matter of relief that veteran ideologues like Dr. G M Hubi have been released. The Counting Days campaign by PIPFPD had carried a post on Dr. GM Hubi on the 233rd day, as a part of the first in the ‘Jail Diaries’ series, on 24th March, 2020.

This is a small, yet significant victory against an illegitimate regime, which we hope will strengthen the campaign for the release of hundreds of imprisoned Kashmiris. Whether in Kashmir or India or anywhere in the world, every authoritarian regime uses draconian laws to imprison activists and dissidents who raise questions against the violations of the government or stand in solidarity with just demands. We stand in solidarity with all those fighting for the release of political prisoners.

Helin Bölek (28), who died on the 288th day of her hunger strike, on 3rd April, was one such cultural activist imprisoned by the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. She was a part of the Leftist cultural group – Grup Yorum, that has been active since 1985. The group was recently banned yet again by the Erdoğan government, and members of the band arrested. Helin and İbrahim Gökçek joined their comrades and started a hunger strike in June 2019 inside the prison, demanding that the ban on their concerts and raids on cultural centres be lifted. They were released in November 2019 as their health deteriorated, but Helin continued her fast from the outside, now demanding the release of her comrades. She died on the 288th day of her hunger strike, but her fight and dream for a just society continues.

We Salute and pay homage to comrade Helin Bölek and many others who have been martyred in battles for justice, peace, human rights, dignity, equality and democracy. Revolutionary greetings to their lives and we aspire to realise their struggles…

#EndOccupation #KashmirCaged #StandWithKashmir #HelinBölek #ReleasePoliticalPrisoners

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