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Hunger strike in Turkish prison

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, August 7
Georgian prisoners in the Maltepe prison in Turkey have gone on hunger strike and demanded to meet with a Georgian clergyman.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the reason of the hunger strike, without notifying what could be the reason of their demand to meet with a Georgian cleric.

"Parents of the imprisoned Georgian citizens notified the Georgian Consulate in Istanbul about the hunger strike. The Consulate contacted the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office and the Penitentiary establishment, which confirmed the hunger strike of the Georgian prisoners.

“The Georgian citizens say that the only reason for the hunger strike is they want to meet with a Georgian cleric,” the Ministry stressed.

The Ministry announced that the Georgian Consulate is in frequent contact with prisoners in the Istanbul penitentiary facility and Georgian prisoners have never expressed a desire to meet with a priest.

“The General Consular systematically provides prisoners with ecclesiastical items (candles, icons, prayers, etc.) and the prison administration have not created any problems in this regard either,” the Ministry reported.

Upon receiving information about the hunger strike, a letter was sent to the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office.

The consul will get a permit to visit the prisoners today.

“The health condition of the Georgian citizens is satisfactory at this stage, according to the information provided to the Consulate by the penitentiary establishment," says the Ministry.

“The Georgian Patriarchate will do its best for all Georgian prisoners who are on a hunger strike in Turkish prisons to be visited by clerics, if they have a practical and legal opportunity for this,” the Patriarch's Secretary Michael Botkoveli told the local media.

He stated he learned about the hunger strike on the internet, but he was not aware if the prisoners were asking for a meeting with a clergyman.

"I do not know what the charges are against the prisoners as well," said Botkoveli.