On the 46th day of hunger strikes in Turkish prisons, the Ministry of Justice announced it would construct 39 new prisons in Turkey.
According to the Ministry of Justice’s 2021 Performance Programme, 39 new prisons will be constructed in Turkey. Turkish Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül had previously announced in 2020 that 355 prisons would be constructed.
Existing prisons will expand, with added ventilation areas, sports halls, air-conditioning and other facilities, according to the Mesopotamia Agency’s report.
The Ministry has also announced on its website an expansion of judicial services, which now cover an area of 5,101,597 square metres, by bringing 270 courthouses into effect. That area is expected to increase to more than six million square metres when work is complete.
Applications against Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have significantly increased. The Ministry was planning to defend against 250 files, but the number has increased by more than three times, reaching 903 files. The ECHR estimated that it would host 900 cases in 2021, 1,250 in 2022 and 1,400 in 2023.
Hunger strike in Turkey’s prisons
As the Ministry of Justice plans to increase the number of prisons in Turkey, the hunger strike launched by political prisoners continues on its 46th day.
Prisoners in Turkey announced the beginning of their hunger strike via the weekly phone calls they made with their families on 27 November. Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Çağlar Demirel, who is currently imprisoned in the Kocaeli Kandıra F-type high security prison, launched the hunger strike. Later, imprisoned former Democratic Regions Party (DBP) member Sebahat Tuncel also decided to strike, and applied to be transferred to the İmralı prison island complex where Abdullah Öcalan is being held.
Elsewhere several prisoners have joined the strike in prisons across Turkey. It has also been revealed that prisoners who were on hunger strike have been subjected to mistreatment in several prisons. Human rights organisations have drawn attention both to the poor conditions and the demands of prisoners.
Prisoners staging hunger strikes have two demands. The first is the removal of the isolation imposed on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in the İmralı F-type high security prison; the second is a plea to stop the violations of prisoners’ rights across all of Turkey’s prisons.