Turkey’s hunger strikers waiting to receive medical attention after end of strike

Turkish authorities have yet to send prisoners who ended their months-long hunger strike on Sunday to the hospital for medical attention, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Monday.

Only 21, five of whom were on a death fast, of the 221 prisoners in southeastern Diyarbakır D Type closed prison were treated in hospitals after the decision to end the strike on Sunday Mezopotamya said, adding that none of the inmates in the southeastern province of Batman had been referred to the hospital.

Hunger strikers in Turkey traditionally refuse food, but take water fortified with salt, sugar and vitamins to prolong the strike.

For the last several months, around 3000 Kurdish prisoners across Turkey, including pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers had been refusing food in protest of the jail conditions for Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group that has been waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Öcalan, who has been held at the island prison of İmralı since 1999, had been barred from meeting his lawyers and only limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between the state and the PKK in 2015 that aimed to end the country's deadlocked Kurdish question.

Turkish officials allowed for Öcalan's lawyers to visit him twice this month and the PKK leader over the weekend called for the hunger strikers to end their protest.

The prisoners who were brought to the hospital were handcuffed and they were not allowed to contact their relatives who came to the hospital to see them, Mezopotamya said.

The new agency also said some of the detainees were assaulted by soldiers while entering the hospital and the same soldiers made a hand gesture associated with a far-right nationalist Grey Wolves.