The families of hunger striking prisoners in Turkey continue to support the hunger strike action and continue to appeal for solidarity for the action as it reaches its 76th day.
The massive hunger strike was launched by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Free Life Party (PAJK) prisoners. The prisoners, who continue their indefinite hunger strike on a rotational basis, are demanding that the Turkish authorities lift the prison isolation conditions of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in Imralı High Security Prison for 22 years.
Activists from the Makhmur (Maxmur) Martyrs’ Families have continued their hunger strike – into its 55th day – in Makhmour Refugee Camp whilst another rotating group of activists have continued their hunger strike for 38 days in the Lavrio Camp in Greece.
One of the prisoners participating in the hunger strike is Emre Can Demir, from Eskişehir H-Type Closed Prison in Turkey’s Eskişehir province. Demir was arrested on 8 December 2016 and sentenced to life imprisonment. His father, Hasan Demir, stated that he supports the resistance of his son and he will continue to do so under all circumstances. If Abdullah Öcalan continues to be kept under isolation and violations of rights in the Turkish prisons do not end, the hunger strikes may be transformed into death fasts, Demir noted.
Subjected to torture
Hasan Demir stated that he was subjected to physical torture with his now jailed son, following their detention after their home in Istanbul had been raided by the Turkish police. “They tied me to a chair and tortured my son before my eyes. I was jailed in Antalya L-Type Prison with my son for a month. After four months, I was released from the prison. In the first court hearing that was held, my son was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment”, he said.
After all the pressure and the trauma they had to experience, the family did not give up supporting the cause of justice, Hasan Demir stressed: “You tortured and burned people in acid wells, and got no result. Even if our son dies, we will continue to expose the persecution policy of the Turkish state. The massacres in Dersim are still in our minds. We have not forgotten”, he said.
Hasan Demir noted that his son Emre Can had engaged in a previous hunger strike for 106 days that had been launched by the Kurdish politican Leyla Güven. His son and three of his friends were hospitalized when the hunger strike ended. “Emre Can had lost weight, from 60 kg to 35 kg. His brother went to visit Emre in prison, but he had been transferred to another prison. The prison guards said there was no prisoner named Emre Can. After a long time, we learned that my son had been transferred to Eskişehir H-Type Closed Prison”, he said.
Violations of the rights of political prisoners
Hasan Demir also listed a number of violations of rights that the political prisoners have been subjected to: “Letters we sent have not been given to the prisoners for a year. They throw away the books that we sent, as well. The canteen in prison is very expensive. Their rooms are raided and they are subjected to this once every three days. They don’t even allow prisoners to have a pen to write with. Especially after this hunger strike began, the pressures on prisoners have increased. There is isolation in isolation. Along with the prisoners, their families are also being tortured”, he said.
‘The prison administration does not allow the prisoners to buy either books or newspapers’
Figen Şahin is a woman political prisoner who is on hunger strike. She was arrested in 2015 under the allegation that she was ‘a member of a terrorist organization in Adana’ and she was sentenced to 20 years, 4 months and 15 days in prison. She also went on a previous hunger strike in 2018 in Balıkesir Burhaniye Type-T Closed Prison for 96 days, again with the same demand that the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan be lifted.
Her sister Nurgül Turğal stated that she had not been allowed to visit her in prison for 11 months due to the Covid-19 measures in prisons. “The last time I was able to talk to my sister was during a phone call. Their mood right now is high. She told me that the prison administration does not allow the prisoners to buy either books or newspapers. We cannot even send new clothes to the prisoners: most of the clothes we send to prison are not given to them”, she stated. “But we will continue with our struggle, together with my jailed sister, until the demands of the hunger strikers are accepted”.