Political prisoners started an indefinite revolving hunger strike on 27 November 2020 demanding an end to human rights violations in the prisons and the lifting of the severe isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been in İmralı Prison for 22 years.
Gülseren Yoleri, Human Rights Association (IHD) Istanbul Branch Chair spoke to JinNews about the ongoing prison hunger strikes. Yoleri emphasised that society and the authorities needed to be more sensitive about the risk of death for hunger strikers.
“During an ongoing revolving hunger strike a prisoner goes on hunger strike repeatedly. We know from the statements of doctors that short-term but frequent hunger strikes have much the same negative effects on health as long-term hunger strikes.”
”During hunger strikes the violations of rights increase in prisons. Disciplinary penalties are given to hunger strikers opposing the isolation. This ultimately increases the isolation imposed on them. Investigations are initiated against all prisoners on hunger strike for this reason,” she noted.
Yoleri pointed out that isolation is defined as torture according to the Turkish constitution as well as international conventions. The prisoners on hunger strike are expressing their democratic demands and calling for the authorities and institutions to fulfill their duties to end rights violations in all prisons.
”Isolation is torture and a crime against humanity. This is also laid out in the constitution of Turkey. We can clearly see the level of responsibility of this state, which allows the practice of torture in contravention of the constitution of this country. This government set out crying, ‘zero tolerance to torture’, but even if it hadn’t, it still has a responsibility to prevent torture. We want these practices of torture and isolation to be ended immediately.”
Gülseren Yoleri also noted that the authorities continue to ignore the hunger strikes despite the reports of human rights, law and health organisations concerning the demands and the state of health of the hunger strikers.
“All the information we collect is shared with the authorities, but they ignore it,” she said.
”There is no point being sensitive after the hunger strike starts to take lives. We always say from the beginning: The hunger strike is an ongoing warning. Let’s take the warning seriously and take immediate action. We need to solve this problem without deaths.”