INDEFINITE AND ALTERNATE HUNGER STRIKES IN PRISONS
14 January 2021
It was reported that prisoners went on indefinite and alternate hunger strikes on 27 November 2020 demanding an end to human rights violations in Turkish prisons, improvement of aggravated enforcement conditions, and providing for family visitations and lawyers conferences in İmralı Prison that has long been under severe isolation. As of today hunger strike protests are on their 49th day and held in 107 prisons.
Rights violations have long been committed in Turkish prisons while such violations have become perpetual. Enforcement conditions were aggravated particularly for prisoners incarcerated within the scope of the Anti-Terror Code by way of amendments introduced to Law No. 7242 on the Enforcement of Sentences, which went into force on the pretext of the pandemic, leaving such prisoners in a disadvantaged position. Violations have become even more widespread with the addition of pandemic conditions.
Hunger strikes had also been held before to support prisoners held in İmralı High Security F-Type Prison which led to a temporary lifting of isolation but visitation bans have come into play once again since 7 August 2019. Such state of affairs is against the UN’s Mandela Rules, CPT’s recommendations and Law No. 5275 on the Enforcement of Sentences. The Ministry of Justice should immediately put an end to this unlawful practice and allow the prisoners to have conferences with their lawyers and family visitations.
Moreover, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Human Rights Inquiry Committee at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Ombudsman Institution and all other relevant bodies should fulfill their duties to end human rights violations in all prisons, to treat prisoners respecting the inherent dignity of the human person, to rule out ill-treatment and other rights violations within the scope of prohibition of ill-treatment and inhuman, degrading and humiliating treatment, to allow for the treatment of sick prisoners without delay, and to prevent the translation of quarantine conditions into an act of torture of isolation followed by sick prisoners’ referral to hospitals.
Authorities should provide medical care with regular health checks in prisons where hunger strikers are held, meet their nutritional needs in line with protocols. Medical protocols on care of hunger strikers had been sent to prisons during the previous hunger strike protests and the authorities should provide for the adoption of these procedures.
We, the undersigned rights, law and healthcare organizations, call on the Ministry of Justice and the relevant institutions to take the necessary steps to put an end to rights violations and to lift isolation in no time to prevent health risks for prisoners on indefinite and alternate hunger strike in 107 prisons. We will also take the necessary steps on both central and local levels through a Monitoring Coordination set up to closely monitor the hunger strikes, will report on the issue and contribute to the formation of a democratic public opinion.
Turkish Medical Association
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey
Human Rights Association
Association of Lawyers for Freedom
Progressive Lawyers’ Association