340 intellectuals urge Turkish gov’t to take steps to end hunger strike in prisons

While the indefinite and irreversible hunger strike, that pro-Kurdish political prisoners launched on February 15, 2017 has entered a critical stage on its 52th day, Turkey’s 340 prominent figures have called on the authorities to take the necessary steps for well-being of the prisoners in a joint declaration on Friday.

Pro-Kurdish political prisoners have been a hunger strike for an end to the isolation of outlawed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and the human rights violations in prisons for about two months. It has been frequently reported that the health of the prisoners on hunger strike especially in İzmir’s Aliağa Şakran Prison has been deteriorating further every passing day. The prisoners joining the hunger strike are not given the B1 vitamin they need by the prison administration. The prisoners on hunger strike are reported to have suffered heavy weight loss as they have already entered the medically critical stage.

The declaration, signed by journalists, academics and social activists, urged the authorities to take responsibility and to end rights violations in prisons.

“In a period in which we rapidly approach to the point of no return with respect to the hunger strikers, we those who have signatures below state that we want to live in a country in which death is not a solution to be heard,” said in the declaration.

According to bianet.org, the joint declaration has continued as follow: “We believe that we are losing a piece of our humanity each day in which the convicts and arrestees, who were driven to consume their bodies to claim their rights, are heading towards death. We urge the authorities to resolve this matter by taking the necessary steps urgently for the health and well-being of the prisoners, improving the conditions of prisons and assessing the demands with an open minded approach based on fundamental human rights and freedoms in line with international treaties.”

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Prison Commission, there are currently 148 prisoners on hunger strike in 17 prisons as of April 7, 2017.

Meanwhile, a press conference held at DBP (Democratic Regions’ Party) provincial branch office before the launch of the hunger strike on Friday was attended by HDP İzmir deputies Müslüm Doğan and Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Diyarbakır deputy Sibel Yiğitalp and DBP-HDP provincial administrations who wore white shirts with a “No to isolation in prisons” and “Hunger strikers in prisons on verge of death” writing on them.

Kürkçü made a statement and stressed that the hunger strike in prisons has entered a critical stage. Recalling his visit together with Sibel Yiğitalp to Şakran Prison two days ago, Kürkçü said that the prison administration did not engage in any efforts with regards to answering the demands of prisoners.

Kürkçü also recalled that prisoners went on hunger strike for various reasons which include reduction of visitation duration, constraint of phone talks to once in 15 days, monitoring of visitors by inspectors, denial of access to various legal newspapers, cell confinements, assaults and violence.

Kürkçü called on authorities to answer the demands of prisoners, warning that those on hunger strike for 52 days now are on the verge of crossing the line between life and death. Kürkçü called on the Minister of Justice and doctors to closely follow the situation in prisons.

April 7, 2017

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