Hunger strike of prisoners in İzmir’s Şakran prison on 42nd day

As the hunger strike launched in İzmir’s Şakran Prison has reached to its 42nd day, the families have warned that the prisoners on hunger strike are, now, entering a critical period and called for public awareness.

Political prisoners in İzmir’s Aliağa Şakran Prison had launched a hunger strike on February 15, 2017 with the demand of the isolation imposed upon the outlawed PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan to be lifted and severe rights violations in the prisons end.”

As the health conditions of the prisoners on the hunger strike have been deteriorating, it is reported that Şakran Prison administration doesn’t provide vital B1 vitamin for the prisoners on hunger strike. According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency, Nusvet Üzrek, aunt of hunger striker Zana Yaktın, said that Yaktın has lost so much weight and the prisoners are entering a critical period.

Calling for awareness Üzrek has stressed that  “Their health is deteriorating. There are no improvements in the prison conditions yet. Everything is getting worse. Whenever we go to visit, we are also subjected to pressure and insults. That place is not a prison, it’s a torture camp. They want there to be no visitors. The last time we visited, Zana had lost a lot of weight. Their situation is approaching the irreversible point. They are getting worse. They can’t communicate among themselves because they are in separate sections. Torture is unimaginable.”

Hunger striker Özkan Yaşar’s mother Hazal Yaşar has also said that, “The prisoners are under constant torture. This had been going on for a long time. We are also subjected to torture when we visit the prison. They are doing everything they can to keep us from visiting. They aim at to isolate our children. When I visited, I couldn’t recognize my son. He had lost so much weight. He talked to us, he tried to laugh. I recognized his teeth when he smiled. It was just his teeth. My child has wasted away. Two of his friends helped him into the visitation booth. He couldn’t even walk. I couldn’t pull myself together when I saw him. His condition is very bad.”

Çiçek Aydın has also stated that they have been subjected to insults and mistreatment whenever they go to visit her husband and added: “Something must be done about this prison. We can’t explain to people what kind of place this is. Only those who have been there understand. It was built as a torture center. The prisoners who are battered are also facing communication bans. They are constantly issuing us fines so we don’t go for visits. I have been going to prisons for 24 years, but this is the first time I have seen such a bad place. The hunger strike continues. This period has seen an increase in pressure and torture. We must speak out. The situation is horrible.”

İzmir Solidarity with the Prisons Initiative chair Selma Altan said the hunger strikers have crossed the critical phase and have started to suffer irreversible damage, and called on the public and NGOs to “speak out.” Altan stated that the prisoners are subjected to severe pressure, torture and rights violations and added: “The conditions in Şakran Prison are like torture camps. There is an incredible torture. There are no rights to be violated. Each section’s warden employs different torture techniques. The hunger strikers are in critical condition now. They are entering the period of irreversible damage. An independent committee should go in and inspect. Let’s speak out, or it will be so much worse.”

According to a report prepared by İzmir Solidarity with the Prisons Initiative on the rights violations of prisoners on hunger strike, a strict isolation implemented in the prison, the wards do not see each other in the yard; the wards are overcrowded, the beds are not sufficient and 15 to 20 people are using 10-person wards so the wards are more stuffy due to overcrowding; the prisoners are forced to remove their shoes when going out to the yard;  medical needs are met either very late or aren’t met at all and the prisoners are forced to make doctor’s visits in handcuffs; social areas have been banned, including the library; books have been limited;

The prisoners who danced to a Kurdish song have received a mass punishment for solitary confinement in Şakran Type T Prison No: 2; the administration has been confiscating letters;  the prisoners are forced to wear name tags with the word “terrorist” on them and those who refuse to wear it are banned from meeting with their families or using the telephone; the yard is closed off with barbed wire; the prisoners are forced to walk in single line even while going to the visitation area; during open visits, 4 or 5 guards walk around between the tables and harrass the prisoners and the visitors;

Prisoners are forcibly battered when they don’t accept a strip search on arrival; in Şakran Children’s Ward, 6 children were severely tortured in January. The excuse was that the children spoke in Kurdish among themselves. One of the children doesn’t speak Turkish; the condition of sick prisoners is even worse, prisoner Cengiz Eker should be given an angio, but he hasn’t even been referred to a doctor;  the situation in the prisons hasn’t been addressed even though legal and administrative ways have been employed.

March 28, 2017

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