Kurdish footballer begins hunger strike in front of UN building in support of Afrin
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish footballer has begun a hunger strike in front of the United Nations building in Geneva to protest the Turkish military incursion into Syrian Kurdistan’s Afrin region.
Deniz Naki, a Kurdish footballer who has been targeted by the government in Turkey for his political views in support of Kurdish rights, revealed on his official Twitter page that he would carry out a hunger strike “in partnership with the resistance of the people of Afrin.”
Naki added that the purpose of the demonstration was “to remind the United Nations, which has remained silent in the fate of occupation, of their responsibilities…against barbarism.”
The Kurdish footballer called on Kurds, “especially young people,” to join the hunger strike and stand with the victims of Ankara’s Afrin operation.
Barbarlığa karşı direnen Efrin halkının direnişine ortak olmak ve İşgale sessiz kalan Birleşmiş Milletlerin sorumluluğunu hatırlatmak için Cenevre’ye doğru yola çıkıyoruz. Gençler başta olmak üzere tüm halkımız yarın saat 12’de Cenevre’de BM’nin önünde olmalı.— Deniz Dersim Naki (@DenizDersimNaki) March 18, 2018
Açlık grevindeyiz. pic.twitter.com/e16cU4Bimx
Naki has not been a stranger to controversy. On Jan. 30, the Kurdish athlete was handed a life ban by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) after he encouraged people to participate in protests against Turkey’s military offensive in Afrin.
The 28-year-old was banned from all competitive matches in Turkey for three years and six months and received a fine of 273,000 liras ($72,000) for “separatist and ideological propaganda.”
Any suspension in Turkey longer than three years constitutes a life ban, which means Naki will no longer be able to play football in the country again.
Upon receiving the ban, the Kurdish footballer’s lawyer said Naki already had plans to terminate his contract with Turkish second-tier club Amedspor and stay in Germany due to “massive security concerns.”
In early January, Naki said he was lucky to be alive after his car was shot at while he was driving on a highway in western Germany.
The Kurdish footballer, who is a well-known critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government’s anti-Kurdish policies, said he believed the attack was politically motivated and involved Turkish security agents “or somebody who doesn’t like my politics.”