A hunger strike launched mainly by Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey demanding the end of the ongoing isolation on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and an end to the violations of human rights in prisons has reached its 201th day.
Whilst the Turkish government ignores the demands of the hunger strikers, the violations of rights with new oppressive practices and regulations has expanded in Turkey’s prisons.
Several human rights organisations and lawyer associations call for immediate action from the authorities that the demands of the hunger striking prisoners should be met as soon as possible and the isolation imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan should be ended, Jin News reports.
Nuray Çevirmen, a member of the Association of Human Rights (İHD) Prison Commission, emphasised that violations of rights in Turkey’s prisons are getting worse.
”There are so many violations of rights such as the situation of seriously ill-prisoners. The prisoners also cannot access health care facilities amid the pandemic. In addition, isolation is another important violation. Unfortunately, despite all this, the government does not take a single positive step in this regard,” she said.
Ayşegül Çağatay from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) noted that the unbearable isolation conditions damage prisoners’ health physically and psychologically.
”Long-term hunger strikes have happened before, we lost many of the prisoners. Currently, hunger strikes continue on a rotating basis. If nothing is done, the prisoners will continue to resist with their own bodies. It will cause serious harm to their health and lives,” she said.
Çağatay stated that the demands of the prisoners are very simple and urged the authorities to hear these demands. “They demand the end of isolation. This is a legitimate and rightful demand. Isolation is a form of torture and the isolation policy must be ended immediately.”
”Prisoners demands are not radical, they are simply the most fundamental human rights guaranteed both under international conventions and national laws,” said Arzu Kurt, a lawyer from the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD).
“We have objected to the changes in the execution law, because political prisoners were excluded from the new execution law. This shows us that the government has a special policy towards political prisoners. There must be equality in cases concerning executions and prisoners. However, political prisoners are punished doubley after they were jailed,” she said.
Kurt noted that violations in Turkey’s prisons and isolation practices has reached to such a level to harm human dignity. “Authorities should immediately restore of the fundamental human rights in prisons,” she said.
“The isolation policy has spread to all prisons in the country. For this reason, the government should take a step in this regard by breaking the isolation that has been going on for years in Imralı, they should allow the family members and lawyer of Abdullah Öcalan to visit Imralı.”