Joint Statement on Definite and Alternate Hunger Strikes


On the Current Definite and Alternate Hunger Strikes


27 December 2023


The number of rights violations in prisons such as isolation and incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment, forced transfers, arbitrary disciplinary punishments, failure to solve prisoners’ health problems in a timely and effective manner, not treating prisoners in critical condition while holding them in cells, preventing the release of prisoners with administrative observation board decisions, prevention of release, poor physical structure and conditions of prisons continue to increase.

Prisoners went on hunger strike on 27 November 2023, demanding the lifting of the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı F-Type High-Security Closed Prison for a long time, providing his physical freedom, and a democratic peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. The hunger strike started by the prisoners has entered one month today.

As of today, there are hunger strikes in over 100 prisons and hundreds of prisoners have joined the hunger strike. As the General Coordination for Monitoring Hunger Strikes, we would like to express that we will share our report with the public soon.

To end the hunger strikes, the political power and authorized institutions have not taken any steps to fulfill the demands of the prisoners who have started hunger strikes and to lift the unlawful isolation and absolute incommunicado detention imposed on Abdullah Öcalan. In addition, the demands of various civil society organizations for “an independent delegation to visit İmralı Prison” have not been answered so far.

First of all, the minimum medically necessary conditions must be established to protect the right to life and health of prisoners on hunger strike. All rights of prisoners, especially their dignity, right to life and right to health, are the responsibility of the state. Prisoners on hunger strike must be provided with 5 large glasses of water/liquid, 2 teaspoons (2 g) salt, 5 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 500 mg vitamin B1 complex preparations. Failure to do so would constitute an interference with the right to life. Restriction of these substances, which should be taken at a minimum level, will cause permanent damage to the brain functions of prisoners and even death, as seen in hunger strikes in the past.

In order to prevent further health problems, prisoners on hunger strike should be regularly monitored by healthcare professionals per their consent; they should be provided with the water, salt, sugar, and vitamin B they need; they should be provided with companionship when they are unable to take care of themselves; they should not be kept in isolation and the use of force against prisoners should be avoided.

Indeed, in the Malta Declaration of 1991, the World Medical Association defined a hunger striker as “a mentally competent person who has voluntarily decided to go on a hunger strike and therefore refuses to take food and/or fluids for a certain period of time.”

We, the undersigned organizations, would like to emphasize that all authorities should have the necessary sensitivity to protect the right to life, especially the right to health, of prisoners on hunger strike.

Article 17/3 of the Constitution and Article 3 of the ECHR stipulate that no prisoner shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, regardless of the reason for the punishment. Article 5/1-a of the Convention on the “right to liberty and security of person” stipulates “the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court” and “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law.” Article 2 of Law No. 5275 on the Enforcement of Sentences and Security Measures sets forth that no cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment shall be used in the enforcement of sentences and security measures and no discrimination shall be made on the basis of race, language, religion, sect, nationality, color, sex or social origin, political or other ideas or opinions and other social positions.

The isolation in İmralı F-type High-Security Closed Prison with absolute lack of communication is in violation of the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Law on the Enforcement of Sentences and Security Measures.

The state and the political power must consider the demands of prisoners on hunger strike before the process evolves to a more dangerous point. Otherwise, the State and the political power would be responsible for the severe consequences that might arise regarding the prisoners’ right to health and life. Therefore, all authorized bodies, especially the Ministry of Justice, must act as soon as possible.

As the undersigned human rights and law organizations, we would like to share with the public that we are closely monitoring the ongoing hunger strikes in prisons, that we have made visits by lawyers, that we have conveyed demands to the political power, that we have made attempts to make the democratic public more sensitive, that we continue to make attempts to make the international community and international organizations fulfill their responsibilities, in short, that we are making every effort to prevent harm to hunger strikers and to end isolation.

In conclusion, in order not to add new ones to our social sufferings and to prevent social fractures, the state and the political power must take the necessary measures and take action to evaluate the demands through peaceful means in the hunger strike action before deaths occur, as painfully experienced in the past. We call on all authorities, especially the Ministry of Justice, national and international law and human rights institutions, to be sensitive to the problem based on fundamental rights and freedoms and to evaluate and meet the demands in this direction as soon as possible.

Human Rights Association

Lawyers for Freedom Association

1974 Progressive Lawyers Association

Med Federation of Legal and Solidarity Associations of Families of Prisoners