Prison hunger strike in Turkey continues into its 147th day – protesting against the prison isolation conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and ongoing rights violations in prisons in the country.
The hunger strikes which spread to 107 prisons in Turkey indicates the “level of violations by itself”, Yeter said in an interview with Mesopotamia Agency. “Imagine how desperate the conditions in prisons are that prisoners have to go on hunger strike just to ask for basic, legitimate rights.
“The violations of rights in prison have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic”, she observed. “During the pandemic, a new ‘execution regulation’ was applied. However, the principle of equality was ignored. Political prisoners were exempted from the regulation. All rights of political prisoners have been halted due to the pandemic”.
She stated that the demands of the prisoners are legitimate and she shared OHD’s recent findings of violations of rights in prisons. “With over-crowded prison cells, the lack of hygiene and materials and banned family visits, prisoners are deprived of their basic rights”, she said.
“Preventing prisoners talking to one another, not giving a book to read for four months, banning visits to see them have been already causing mental and physical health problems. Added to this, now we have the hunger strikes. Especially during the pandemic, it involves high risks”, she clarified.
Referring to Abdullah Öcalan’s prison isolation conditions, she pointed out that the isolation policy towards him, after the peace process ended, has become starker: “Even his lawyers and family members are banned from visiting him, after the isolation was further deepened in 2011”.
The isolation of Öcalan was broken to some extent, she acknowledged, after a massive hunger strike that was launched in 2018-2019. But “with the rapid change in the political atmosphere of the country within these past two years, we are facing a severe isolation regime now”, she added. “This isolation is defined as a violation of human rights in national and international law, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) considers this clearly as ill-treatment and torture”, she concluded.