Five transsexual prisoners hunger strike in protest of cell change
Fırat Alkaç - ISTANBULFour Spanish and one Azerbaijani transsexual prisoners have gone on hunger strike after they were moved to a different cell and separated from their previous Turkish transsexual cellmates, saying the Turkish inmates had been helpful in overcoming the language barrier.
At Istanbul’s Maltepe Prison, the five went on a hunger strike when they were transferred to Cell 3 from Cell 1, where they were imprisoned with 21 other transsexual inmates including Turks. The five stated they had no relatives in Turkey and that they had received help from the Turkish inmates.
“Nobody helps us out here. We do not know Turkish and we do not have enough financial sources to meet our needs. The Turkish inmates have been helping us,” they said before they went on a hunger strike to reclaim their former cell.
Rafael Alves De Sousa, a Spanish prisoner, said they had stayed with the Turks for about four years and that they had been helping them with their needs. They were now on hunger strike, he said.
“We will continue to hunger strike until we can be with our Turkish friends. The [cell] that we are staying at the moment is not appropriate for us. We are in a bad mood,” De Sousa said.
The defiant prisoners on strike has also asked for help writing a letter to the Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST), a non-governmental organization that deals with prison issues in Turkey, after their demand to return to their former cell was rejected.
Hilal Başak Demirbaş from the CİSST, reacted to the new regulation of the prison administration, saying transsexual prisoners from foreign countries live in bad conditions.
“The [Maltepe] prison administration made a step of goodwill to make life easier for inmates. However, it did not ask the prisoners’ consent before doing that. We see in the letter the inmates sent us that LGBTI prisoners who do not have any visitors nor any sort of income are now deprived of solidarity with Turkish prisoners, which they had previously. They are bothered with this cell change. There are some who say are on hunger strike. [Prison administrations] should give up on this type of attempt,” she added.
The Maltepe Prison administration introduced a new regulation on May 15 to allocate 21 transsexual inmates living in Cell 1 to different cells.