Turkey: Young man who set himself on fire died in the hospital

Turkey: Young man who set himself on fire died in the hospital
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Mehmet Akar had set his body on fire allegedly in protest against the severe isolation imposed on PKK leader Ocalan.

A young man who set himself on fire Monday in Turkey's Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir died in the hospital.

Twenty-five-year-old Mehmet Akar was taken to the hospital after he set his body on fire in a tower of Diyarbakir's historic fortress, allegedly in protest against the severe solitary confinement imposed on Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK).

As a funeral procession for the young man is expected to be held in his hometown, the village of Axmeshat, the village has been encircled by Turkish troops and cordoned off, Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) said.

Akar was held in custody for eight days in August 2019 on allegations that he had been "abducted" by the PKK to be recruited in the group's ranks.

His mother Hacire Akar had reportedly joined for a while in a state-sponsored protest in front of the offices of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The protesters, who consist of families of young people allegedly affiliated with the PKK, blame HDP for having "aided PKK abduct their close ones."

A letter allegedly left by Mehmet Akar, written in Kurdish, was made public after his death.

It read:

"Hello friends, I salute comrade Bubo's act. We cannot hear from our leader Apo [Abdullah Ocalan]. They do not allow Ocalan's family or his lawyers to visit him in prison. All applications are rejected without stating any reason. We are very concerned about his well being."

It continued:

"To challenge this situation, I will set my body on fire in Amed's Keciburcu this evening at 09:21 PM. Let my fire throw a light on Imrali [prison]. I hope it contributes to the freedom of our leader Apo."

"Bubo" Akar referred to is Bubo Tas who set himself on fire on 12 January in the Kurdish-majority city of Artuklu, allegedly in protest of Ocalan's isolation. He died the same night. The police said after his death that he had committed suicide "because of family issues."

Tas was incarcerated for six years after the 1980 military coup in the notorious Diyarbakir prison, and was subjected to torture.