10 Female Prisoners in Turkey on Hunger Strike, Health Worsening

Six women in a jail in the eastern province of Elazig went on hunger strike in November to protest against a rule obliging them to wear an ID while outside their living quarters. Four joined them a month later

File photo: Carnations at a security barrier in Dyarbakir, Turkey, November 2017.
SERTAC KAYAR/REUTERS

The health of 10 women prisoners in Turkey has deteriorated since they went on hunger strike to protest against a new security measure, a lawyers’ association in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir said on Saturday.

Six women in a jail in the eastern province of Elazig went on hunger strike on November 10, to protest against a rule obliging them to wear an ID while outside their living quarters, the Bar association said. Four more women joined them on December 10.

The Diyarbakir Bar said the prisoners were losing weight and starting to have serious health problems. Prison officials were not available over the weekend to comment on the women’s condition.

The Bar association said women who did not comply with the rule that was recently implemented were “not allowed access to meetings outside the ward, hobby activities, communication, ventilation and meetings with their lawyers.”

A request by one of the hunger strikers to have the rule rescinded was rejected on the grounds that it “prevented escape and averted disorder.”

The Bar did not specify why the women had been imprisoned and it was not available to comment on Saturday.

Diyarbakir, which borders Elazig to the south, is the biggest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

Violence erupted between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 2015, after the collapse of a cease-fire. The PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the state since the 1980s, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union.