Prisoners in Turkey continue to protest against the increasing violations of human rights in prisons and against the isolation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in Imralı Island Prison for the last 22 years.
The hunger strike action launched by Kurdish political prisoners on 27 November 2020 continues into its 245th day throughout prisons in Turkey.
Since 14 July, prisoners have refused to eat for 15 days, each time they engage in the indefinite-rotating hunger strike.
Nuray Çevirmen, a member of Turkey’s Human Rights Assocation (IHD), told ANF that health issues began to emerge with the hunger striking prisoners.
Çevirmen described the demands of the hunger striking prisoners, also shedding light on some serious violations of rights in Turkey’s prisons: “Prisoners have mainly two demands. One, an end to the isolation in Imrali Prison and ensuring family and lawyers’ visits to Imralı.”
Secondly, “an end to the violations of rights in prisons. Among these violations, there are unjust disciplinary penalties. A sequence of violations of rights continue in a chronic manner in prisons.”
She explained how prisoners serve longer sentences than the laws order. “The prisoners who have been in prison for 30 years
are still held in prisons. The prison sentences of prisoners are lengthened despite them having spent the minimum time needed to be served in prison. Prisoners who should benefit from judiciary controls are held in prisons with the decisions of the prison boards.”
Çevirmen also drew attention to the strict solitary confinement practices in the newly opened prisons in Turkey.
“In the high security prisons that were opened recently, prisoners are kept in one-man cells like a box: these cells have no ventilation. There is a prison regime whereby people are locked behind bars in an obliviousness, away from the world, completely isolated from society.”
Çevirmen urged all human rights defenders to put pressure on Turkish authorities to hear the demands of the prisoners in order for the hunger strikes to end without any further damage on the inmates’ health.