The ongoing hunger strikes in prisons in Turkey and the violations of rights of prisoners in the country have affected the lives of the families of prisoners. Prisoners’ mothers have appealed to the authorities to accept the demands of the hunger strikers and have drawn attention to the violations of the rights of prisoners.
Amidst rising concerns about the high number of human rights violations that were taking place in prisons in Turkey, prisoners had declared an indefinite-rotating hunger strike action in Turkey 92 days ago. They had demanded the lifting of the prison isolation conditions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan alongside an end to severe violations of rights that were taking place in prisons.
Family members of the prisoners, especially the mothers, have added to the voice of the prisoners concerning their demands and reasons for engaging in the hunger strike. Halime Topuz and Fatma Aykal are the mothers of the hunger striking political prisoners İhsan Topuz and Mehmet Ali Aykal respectively. They spoke to Jin News and shared their concerns.
İhsan Topuz (41) is one of the prisoners participating in the hunger strike in Van Closed Prison. He was arrested in 1992 and released after eight years. He then joined the PKK and was arrested again four years later in Iran. He remained for ten years in Iran and was then transferred to Turkey in 2016. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and has served four years of that sentence.
‘We do not want them to suffer these indignities anymore’
İhsan’s mother, Halime Topuz, said that the prisoners were constantly subjected to violations of their rights and stated: “My son has been subjected to oppression and persecution for years. Now, he is under pressure in prison. They do not get proper food. There is no heating in the middle of winter. We sent winter clothes but they were not given to him. They suffer from arbitrary treatment. We are their mothers. We do not want them to suffer these indignities anymore. Our children are fighting for their rights. We are with them. As long as the demands of prisoners are not fulfilled, we will be protesting on the streets”, she said.
‘When it comes to Kurds, human rights come to an end?’
”Thousands of prisoners went on hunger strike. Turkey talks about human rights. But when it comes to Kurds, human rights come to an end? I’m calling out to mothers too. Don’t let them stay inside”, Halime Topuz said. She called for solidarity with the prisoners before it is too late.
‘This war must come to an end’
Stating that lifting the prison isolation conditions means a solution for peace, Halime Topuz said: “I’ve been away from my son for 27 years. Now this war must come to an end. Find a solution. Someone listen to us now. The hunger strike has been going on for more than two months. Which mother can comfortably sleep in these circumstances? We will do anything for our children. There is no force that can stop the mothers’ struggle. Let’s save our children from this cruelty”.
‘My son was still a child when he was arrested’
Mehmet Ali Aykal has been in Diyarbakır D-Type Prison for 4 years. His mother, Fatma Aykal, stated that her son was imprisoned when he was 16 years old and said: “My son was still a child when he was arrested, but he was not afraid at all. When the police came and asked: ‘Why are you so comfortable?’, he replied: ‘I have no guilt to be afraid of’. He was arrested and sentenced to nine and a half months in prison. He was later released but arrested again three days later”, she said.
Fatma Akyal continued: “We want peace, not death. My son has been on hunger strikes before. Now he’s on strike again. As a prisoner mother, I cannot sleep. My son is always on my mind. The prisoners will not give up their hunger strike until their demands are fulfilled”, she said.