Hundreds of political prisoners in Turkey’s prisons have been carrying out a hunger strike since 27 November last year, demanding that Turkish authorities end the prison isolation conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader, and allow family members and lawyers to visit him in Imralı prison in Turkey.
Elif Harran, a human rights activist focusing on prisoners’ rights in Turkey, spoke to Jin News regarding the prison hunger strike which has reached its 190th day of action.
Harran shared her criticisms regarding the Turkish government’s national silence over the hunger strikes. “The whole world is aware of the hunger strikes. Yet, Turkey’s government plays ‘three wise monkeys’ in the face of the hunger strike actions. ‘I did not see, I did not hear, I do not know anything’ is its stance,” she said.
”The government prefers to remain silent regarding the hunger strike action, but non-government organisations (NGOs) and the relatives of the prisoners are continuing to support this action”, she noted. Harran shared her view that the main reason for the crises facing the country lies in the isolation policy that is imposed on Imralı Prison.
“The Justice and Development Party-Nationalist Movement Party (AKP-MHP) government is trying to terrorise opposition groups. We can say that when Mr Öcalan was brought to Turkey, it brought chaos to Turkey. For the past 22 years, there has been a sociological crisis in Turkey and this crisis has affected the whole country. The crisis has been getting worse with each passing day for the past five years,” she said.
“There is a war being waged against the Kurdish freedom movement. The reason why the government does not allow Öcalan to meet with his lawyers is to intimidate the Kurdish people.”
She noted that the authorities have tried to intimidate the hunger striking prisoners using extra pressures in prisons. The prison administrations have been imposing disciplinary penalties. “In this way, they are trying to break the will of the prisoners,” she said.
The government also knows that the solution lies in Imralı, Harran noted, “but it does not fulfil its duty for a solution. At the same time, the Ministry of Health and Justice is the main body responsible for protecting the prisoners’ health rights, yet it remains silent as well. It is our call to NGOs, and to political parties all around the world, to listen to the legitimate demands of the prisoners.”