Doctors: Critical threshold crossed by hunger strikers in prisons

A group of medical and physicians’ institutions warned that critical threshold has been crossed by hunger strikers in prison.

Mardin Chamber of Physicians (MTO), Health and Social Workers Union (SES) Mardin Branch, Mardin Chamber of Dentists (MDHO) and Confederation of Public Workers' Unions (KESK) Mardin Branches Platform made a statement about the ongoing hunger strikes in the prisons.

The statement, as well as recalling that HDP Hakkari MP Leyla Güven is on hunger strike for 56 days to demand an end to the isolation imposed on Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, also drew attention to the situation of Kadir Karabak and Esat Naci Yildirim, who are on their 108th day of death fast in Van F Type Closed Prison.

Representatives of the institutions releasing the statement joined the press conference at KESK Mardin Branch Building.

Tuncay Gökçen, member of the MTO Board of Directors, read the statement on behalf on the organisations.

Noting that many prisoners continue their hunger strike and that new prisoners are joining the action every week, Gökçen said: “Hunger strikes, which tend to spread to all prisons, approached the death threshold in some places. This is a sensitive issue for physicians whose priority is the protection of human life and dignity. The detainees and convicts who went on a hunger strike indefinitely need to be explained the damages hunger produces to the bodies and the measures to be taken. We need to take informed consent from each of them, daily medical follow-up and treatment are required.”

No time to lose

Recalling the hunger strike and death fasts in prisons in the 1996s and 2000s, Gökçen said: ”Independent committees to be formed in the chambers of physicians should take the necessary measures to monitor the hunger strikers and secure the minimum damage during their fast. Human rights organizations should be aware that deaths can be experienced any time as the critical threshold has been crossed, we believe, as health professionals.”

Gökçen explained that the path to death in hunger strikers is one of sufferance and pain: “Difficulties in breathing, nausea and vomiting, hypersensitivity, hypotension, impossibility to move, fast body deterioration and death. As healthcare worker we remind of the sanctity of the right to life and we expect the authorities, the concerned institutions, and especially the government to take action.”

Prisoners’ demands should be granted

At the end of the statement, the organisations asked for the demands of the prisoners to be taken into consideration by the Ministry of Justice urgently.

"It is our duty to demand the necessary negotiations to take place for the termination of this hunger strike carried out by prisoners. We call upon those who are sensitive to humanity and human life, including politicians, to make any attempt to end the hunger strike. We have emphasized that an independent physicians' delegation should be set up and should be allowed to enter the prisons as soon as possible. We must know that life is the most essential thing.”