Hunger Strikers Protest Conditions in Turkish Prisons

Several political prisoners inside the Turkish carceral system have launched hunger strikes. Political prisoners in Mardin and Urfa have started an indefinite hunger strike against the unbearable conditions of detention.

In the E-type prison in Mardin, Elif Deniz, Ronahi Sırdaş and Melek Evren have started an indefinite hunger strike against the violations they have suffered. The women have endured the brutality of the Turkish prison system including conditions such as imposed solitary confinement.

Similarly, in the T-type prison in Urfa-Hilvan five prisoners have declared a hunger strike. Serhat Bulut told his relatives on the phone that the indefinite hunger strike action is directed against the restriction of prisoners’ rights, which has drastically intensified since the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

The prisoners are demanding the right to communication, sport, social activities and above all health care. Besides Serhat Bulut, Emrullah Oruc, Ilyas Doğan, Cafer Sabır and Kasım Karataş have been on hunger strike since Wednesday.

Turkish authorities have refused to negotiate with the hunger strikers who say they will continue the strike until their demands are met.

Poor conditions and overcrowding have long been issues in the Turkish prison system, but the threat of Covid-19 has made such issues increasingly dangerous. The protests follow similar campaigns across the world directed against the cruelty of prisons during a global pandemic.

Whilst none deserve the cruel conditions of such prisons, the fact that many prisoners are political prisoners is a clear affront to democracy in Turkey. The state’s continued use of prisons to silence its political opponents is clearly reprehensible.

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