Hunger strikers in critical zone

Hunger strikers in critical zone

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Hunger strikers in critical zone

BDP’s Demirtaş says supporters are ready to die with hunger strikers. DHA photo

Public outcry over the indefinite hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners has increased as the strike entered its 42nd day Oct. 23 and some prisoners approach life-threatening conditions.

“Even a minute or a second is very important for us. People all over Turkey should drop everything to attend demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands should appear. Otherwise, we cannot stop this absence of conscience. Either we stop this, or we will die with our imprisoned colleagues,” Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said yesterday in front of Diyarbakır Prison, where some of the hunger strikers are detained.

Sixty-three inmates in several Turkish prisons began the hunger strike on Sept. 12, demanding an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who is serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea. According to information given by Justice

Ministry authorities, over 600 inmates are staging hunger strikes at the moment.Those participating in the hunger strike, most of whom have been detained in the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) probe, also demand an end to restrictions on the use of Kurdish in public zones, specifically allowing defendants the right to defense in Kurdish during their trials.

Meeting with lawyers

Öcalan’s lawyers have not been allowed on İmralı Island for the last 14 months. Lawyers last met with Öcalan on Oct. 12, 2011, though his brother Mehmet Öcalan has met with him twice over the past year.

Mehmet Öcalan applied to the Justice Ministry to see his brother during Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice but has not received a response, daily Taraf reported Oct. 23. Jailed BDP lawmaker Faysal Sarıyıldız and Van Mayor Bekir Kaya joined the hunger strike on Oct. 18. Those who began the strike on Sept. 12 are in critical condition, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said yesterday. The TTB said they had received information that some of the hunger strikers are refusing to take the salt, sugar and B1 vitamins necessary to prevent irreparable damage, while some prison officers are not providing their inmates with the vitamins. The TTB once again asked the Justice Ministry to allow doctors to visit the hunger strikers, reminding them that the ministry had not responded to the TTB despite their Oct. 15 request for an appointment.

Amnesty International released a statement Oct. 23 calling on Turkish authorities to ensure that no punitive measures are taken against prisoners undertaking the hunger strike. The London-based organization voiced its concerns over reports that prisoners in the Silivri and Şakran prisons participating in the hunger strike have been placed in solitary confinement.