Prisoners at Kürkçüler Prison in Adana, Turkey, have been holding five-day alternating hunger strike actions since 14 July to protest against arbitrary punishments, humiliation and ill-treatment, imprisoned journalist İbrahim Karakaş told Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) by letter on Monday.
Karakaş, who has been held in prison since 6 November 2020 due to his journalistic activities, said the prisoners had been subjected to arbitrary and oppressive practices, including being deprived of their right to receive visitors.
The prison administration does not allow visitors, he continued. “Since the investigation – profiling – by the police, it has been seen as ‘inconvenient’ and visits are not allowed.”
Even when their lawyers or family members were allowed to visit, guards would force prisoners to march like soldiers to the visiting room or else face disciplinary action, Karakaş said.
Other examples of mistreatment by guards include the use of strip searches, the journalist said. Those who refuse these searches are subjected to violence, and complaints about this mistreatment have fallen on deaf ears, he added.
“A decision of non-prosecution is made when we press charges against the people who conduct or give the order for strip searches,” he said. “This practice, which tramples on human dignity, is legitimised by the judicial authorities.”
At the same time, Karakaş said, prisoners who face disciplinary action have been deprived of their right to a defence due to their Kurdish identity.
“Our constitutional right to a defence in our mother tongue regarding disciplinary investigations is not accepted by the prison administration, so disciplinary punishments are issued without a defence,” he said.
Meanwhile, sick prisoners have been denied treatment and left to languish in prison as their health deteriorates, related Karakaş.
The prisoners have been trying to find a solution to the unlawful and arbitrary treatment using legal means, he said. “However, due to our Kurdish identity and our politics, we are faced with completely hostile responses.”
The prisoners started the five-day alternating hunger strike because the prison authorities refused to address their demands, Karakaş said. “We are still continuing this action. Unfortunately, none of our problems have been resolved, either before or since the start of this strike, they just continue to increase.”
Instead of seeking to resolve the dispute, Karakaş said that since the start of the hunger strike the prison authorities have been punishing the prisoners by withholding supplies such as fruit juice, sugar and salt.
“I am exposed to these practices together with all my friends, because of my political identity and my profession as a journalist,” he said. “We believe that we will overcome these impositions by resisting together.”