Lawyer Yıldız: Prisoners have no alternative to the hunger strike to make their voice heard

Lawyer Destine Yıldız spoke on the situation of prisoners and said that they have no alternative to the hunger strike. They have no other way of making their voice heard.

Since 27 November 2020, PKK and PAJK prisoners held in Turkish jails have been on a five-day rotating hunger strike. They are calling for the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan to be lifted and for an end to the violations of the law and rights in Turkish prisons. Conditions in jail have become even more life-threatening with the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawyer Destine Yıldız is co-spokeswoman for the prison commission of the Istanbul department of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD). In this interview with ANF she spoke about the conditions of prisoners in the region.

"A prison within the prison"

Yıldız said that the prisoners in the Marmara region are increasingly isolated and added: “As we have described in our yearly reports on the situation in the prisons in the Marmara region, isolation continues. This isolation has reached serious proportions in the context of the pandemic. The prisoners are also isolated in the prisons themselves. There are no open visits and there can only be three closed visits per month. While there are plans for normalization out there, there is no idea of normalizing the situation of the people in prison. They are actually held in a prison within a prison. The hunger strikes are continuing in shifts at the moment. The number of participants varies according to the number of prisoners. According to information we receive from our clients, in some places the strikes are led by individuals, in places with more prisoners in groups of three or four. Some are already doing their second shift. If they go back fasting very quickly, it will cause health problems in the long run."

"Some civil society organizations take their responsibility, but that is not enough"

Yıldız said the regime is trying to isolating the resistance and the situation in the prisons. In this context, she added, “the repression against civil society organizations has increased. The IHD (Human Rights Association) chairman was arrested only recently. Some institutions are trying to do what they can about the hunger strikes, but of course that is not enough."

"It's very quiet outside..."

The policy of isolation in prisons is determined by the government, Yıldız said, adding: “Isolation is a tool the state repression uses to create the human model it has in mind. Hunger strikes are the route prisoners take when they run out of alternatives. You will be deprived of the most fundamental rights. That has to do also with the lack of awareness outside. There is no other way for them to make their voice heard. It's very quiet outside...

"Now is the time for the social opposition to show itself"

According to the lawyer “isolations of the law in prisons and hunger strikes need to be always on the agenda. It is about human dignity and we are talking about human rights. The demands of these people are the most important point for building social peace."

Lawyer Yıldız points out the drama of the situation, the hunger strikes, the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention for the Protection of Women from Violence and the closure proceedings against the HDP and said: “That is exactly what we call isolation. As ÖHP, we do our best. Now it is time for the social opposition to show themselves."