Destina Yıldız, a lawyer from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD), has criticised the violations of rights taking place in Turkey’s prisons. She also commented on the massive hunger strike action that continues in prisons in Turkey. It began on 27 November last year and prisoners from over 100 prisons throughout Turkey have been engaged in the rotating hunger strike action.
The hunger strike action was launched by political prisoners in protest against the prison isolation conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and rights violations that were taking place in prisons. It has reached its 133rd day. The 26th group of strikers took over the rotating hunger strike this week.
Activists in Iraq and Greece also launched an indefinite rotating hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners in Turkey. The hunger strike that was launched on 18 December 2020 in Makhmour Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan has reached its 112th day whilst activists in Lavrio Camp in Greece have continued with their hunger strike action – now into its 95th day.
‘Prisoners risk their health to achieve the right stolen from them’
Yildiz, in referring to the hunger strike actions in Turkey, stated that: ”The hunger strike is a way of protest when there is no alternative. They are deprived of their most basic rights. It is also related to the insensitive situation on the outside. They have no other means of protest to make their voices heard”.
Human rights organisations have been repeatedly calling upon the Turkish authorities to take the hunger strike action seriously and to address the possible risks of the action for the health of the prisoners amidst a ‘Covid-19 pandemic’.
Despite this, the pressures exerted on the hunger striking prisoners have been increased, Yıldız observed. “Open visits are still not allowed. Whilst the normalisation process is proceeding outside, it is not being reviewed with regard to the prisoners: they are imprisoned twice – under pandemic restrictions now – which have been introduced and applied to excessive levels in prisons”, she stated.
“The prisoners are being deprived of their most basic rights and they are risking their health to achieve these rights which have been stolen from them. The authorities should hear their demands and take action, instead of increasing the levels of violations of their rights”.