2 inmates in Turkish prisons continue hunger strike as authorities reject demands

Two inmates in Turkish prisons staging hunger strikes said they would be continuing their protests indefinitely after the Ministry of Justice rejected their demands, the Duvar news website reported.

Sibel Balaç in Sincan Prison and Gökhan Yıldırım in Tekirdağ F-Type Prison demanded fair trials. They also demanded the release of critically sick prisoners and an end to arbitrary disciplinary punishment in prison. The two inmates requested unlimited access to books and magazines.

The charges against Balaç and Yıldırım were not disclosed; however, both inmates demanded their release.

Balaç has reportedly lost 15 kilograms in the last one-and-a-half months, while Yıldırım lost eight kilos. According to Yıldırım’s brother, Erkan Yıldırım, he now weighs 52 kilos and experiences shaking and body aches. “He said he would not give up on the strike unless the authorities meet their demands,” said Erkan Yıldırım. “My brother only wants to live as a dignified human being in prison. We hope the public supports them.”

According to her family Balaç was subjected to a strip-search in prison before she was taken to the hospital. “She rejects such humiliating practices,” said her family. “Sibel [Balaç] repeatedly talks about the cruel and inhumane treatment in prison. She just wants it to end.”

The testimony of an increasing number of women detained on terrorism charges shows that Turkish security forces use strip-searches unlawfully and systematically to humiliate them.

The European Court of Human Rights has found strip-searches to constitute degrading treatment when not justified by compelling security reasons and/or due to the way they are conducted.

But the practice has frequently been used by Turkish law enforcement against people suspected or convicted of political crimes.

Moreover, the annual report on the violation of human rights in Turkish prisons by the Diyarbakır Bar Association revealed that rights violations increased in 2021 and that prison conditions had worsened.

According to the report mistreatment increased in prisons, but claims of mistreatment were not investigated and the perpetrators were often not held accountable.

In some cases inmates who wanted to obtain a hospital report documenting injuries sustained during mistreatment or torture were prevented from doing so by prison authorities. Prison doctors were also reluctant to issue reports confirming mistreatment.

The situation of critically ill prisoners was alarming, said the report. Over the year, a number of sick inmates had died in prison because they were not released to seek proper treatment.

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