The mass hunger strike action that was launched by Kurdish political prisoners on 27 November 2020 in Turkey has continued into its 209th day. Hunger striking prisoners have been protesting against the increasing violations of human rights prisoners face in the country and they have also protested against the ongoing prison isolation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in Imralı Island Prison for the past 22 years.
Several seriously ill prisoners continue to be forced to live in conditions where proper medical support is not provided. They consequently are deteriorating rapidly in health. Family members have repeatedly drawn attention to these concerns, as many prisoners now face a high risk of death. They have appealed to authorities to immediately release seriously ill prisoners.
Family members have described how they have been restricted from visiting their loved ones in jail for months as all family visits have been halted for over a year now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in place.
Ahmet Çelik is one of the seriously ill political prisoners whose family members have appealed to the Turkish authorities, requesting his immediate release. Having been detained during a police raid in his home in 2015, Ahmet Çelik was sentenced to 16 years in prison, Jin News reports.
Çelik has been unable to walk for six years due to the torture he was subjected to and he has not received appropriate medical treatment for the injuries he sustained since he was jailed.
Stating that the violations of rights against political prisoners has worsened, Ahmet Çelik’s wife Hazal Çelik has demanded the immediate release of her husband before his health deteriorates even further. Hazal Çelik stated that prisoners have limited access to food, healthcare facilities and they face restrictions that extend to even having a shower.
Çelik: ‘I want this cruelty on us and on all people to come to an end’
Hazal Çelik added: “They are having to endure these problems inside even as we are devastated knowing the repression they face. All family members share these same troubles.”
Hazal Çelik is currently raising her four children, trying to cope despite financial distress and her endless concerns for her husband and children. “My children miss their father, but we cannot even visit him. My husband now has more health problems. He has trouble walking. He is not able to walk without the help of his friends,” she said.
She stated that her family and her husband’s family had been supportive but due to the pandemic over the past year, she can no longer receive support from anyone.
“Our financial situation is also not good, affecting our ability to visit him. I send him money and clothes every month. No one is looking after us. I want this cruelty on us and on all people to come to an end,” she said.
Her words reflect the harsh reality facing families of prisoners: “They say, ‘We are sisters and brothers.’ If that is the case, how can they shut their eyes to the fact that Kurdish children are being raised without mothers and fathers? Hundreds are in prisons. We are under heavy isolation. We want this to stop.”