Prisoners on hunger strike in a Turkish prison have started “coughing blood” after going 60 days without food, according to an inmate.
13 Kurdish prisoners in Izmir’s Sakran Prison went on hunger strike on 15 February to protest prison conditions, rights violations and demand an end to the isolation of imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and military operations in the country’s majority Kurdish southeast.
Abdulbahri Yildirim, an inmate in the same prison told his family via telephone that prisoners had suffered extreme weight loss and had started coughing blood, the Firat News Agency reported.
The same prisoner also claimed that prison authorities had threatened to intervene on medical grounds but there were fears that this would mean the use of force.
More than 200 prisoners imprisoned on charges of PKK membership have joined the hunger strike across a dozen prisons.
In a statement opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Burcu Celik confirmed reports saying her party had communicated with prison authorities and that there was the possibility of an intervention.
“We couldn’t get any information on what kind of intervention this would be,” she added.
Another prominent HDP deputy, Pervin Buldan, who recently met Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said they had tried to contact the minister but had not received a response.
30 inmates and 2 soldiers died across several prisons after Turkish security forces intervened in a prison hunger strike in the year 2000.
Short term hunger strikes in support of the prison protest have been launched by the families of protestors as well as in several European capitals. Activists have criticised international organisations and media for not reporting the protest.
According to Human rights organisations in Turkey inmates are reaching the “death threshold.”
A 67 day hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners in 2012 was credited as opening the path to a ceasefire and negotiations between the PKK and Turkish government from 2013-2015.