Two Kurdish prisoners, Mazlum Dağ and Abdurrahman Er, who have been on a hunger strike in Erbil (Hewlêr) in Iraqi Kurdistan for 45 days, are facing life-threatening conditions, according to the Swiss-based NGO Solidarity Initiative Against the Death Penalty. The organisation issued a call on Friday, urging authorities to accept the prisoners’ demands and address their deteriorating health.
Relatives of Dağ and Er said that the hunger strikers have not been provided with vitamin B1, which should be given to individuals on hunger strikes. They reported that the prisoners have experienced increased weight loss, difficulty in standing up, and have been unable to reach any prison officials. Efforts by lawyers to intervene on their behalf have yielded no results, Mezopotamya Agency reported.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) also issued a statement on the same day, holding the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Kurdistan Region (KRI) responsible for the health and safety of the political prisoners on hunger strike.
“The government, which considers itself the Kurdish authority, has given the death penalty to these Kurdish youth to fulfil the demands of the occupying Turkish state,” said the KCK in the statement. “The death penalty for two Kurdish youth is far from Kurdishness, patriotism and humanity.”
Dağ and Er were arrested following an attack on the Turkish Consulate General in Erbil, in the KRI, on 17 July 2019. Subsequently, the court of first instance sentenced Dağ and Er to death for their alleged involvement in the attack.
The hunger strike by Dağ and Er began as a protest against various human rights violations they said they had experienced, as well as the imposition of prison uniforms.
This is not the first time Dağ and Er have resorted to a hunger strike. In February 2022, they initiated a strike to denounce rights violations but ended it on the ninth day after receiving assurances from the prison administration regarding improvements in their conditions. Similarly, in September last year, the pair embarked on another hunger strike in response to the inhumane conditions in prison, which they terminated on the 14th day after their demands were met.