As hunger strikes continue amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa (Riha) Prison, the prison administration is not testing prisoners for the virus despite increasing case numbers.
The hunger strike was launched by political prisoners in Turkey to protest the isolation of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. The fifth group of strikers staged their hunger strike in Şanlıurfa Prison. Forty-four prisoners have joined the strike so far.
Prisoner Mehmet Binici spoke about the violations of prisoners’ rights during his weekly phone call with his family. He said prisoners could meet the prison administration after two months and they demanded precautions against the pandemic be taken. However, Binici said, the administration told them, “The virus has spread across the prison. You all had the illness or you currently have it. If you wish we can only supply painkiller”.
Stating that prisoners who left the prison were not brought back, Binici pointed out that either they were forcibly taken to independent wards or wards of juridical prisoners.
Binici also said their needs were met for the first time since the beginning of hunger strikes.
The strikes have begun on 27 November
Prisoners in Turkey announced the beginning of their hunger strike via the weekly phone calls they made with their families on 27 November. Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Çağlar Demirel, who is currently imprisoned in the Kocaeli Kandıra F-type high security prison, launched a hunger strike.
Imprisoned former Democratic Regions Party (DBP) member Sebahat Tuncel also decided to strike, and applied to be transferred to the İmralı prison island complex where Abdullah Öcalan is being held.