Imprisoned trans LGBTI+ activist Diren Coşkun’s friends have started joining in hunger strike in order for Diren to be granted basic demands regarding treatment in prison. On day 20 of Diren Coşkun’s “indefinite hunger strike” and day 8 of Kıvılcım Arat’s hunger strike, Irmak Keskin has also joined in for a 3 day hunger strike.
Trans LGBTI+ activist Diren Coşkun had been arrested due to conclusive prison sentence for a court case that accused her of “membership to terror organisation” and “propagating terror” on August 14, 2017 at the Diyarbakır Courthouse, where she had gone for a bureaucratic procedure and got detained at random ID controls.
SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR TRANS INMATE DİREN COŞKUN
Diren Coşkun’s LGBTI+ organisation Keskesor had announced that as she refused to be put in the men’s prison, she had been kept in solitary confinement cell in Diyarbakır T Type Prison. Moreover, Keskesor had also announced that while Diren had been harassed by gendarme soldiers on her way to prison, the prison guards had treated her kindly and addressed her as Ms. Diren, her name of choice, and not the one on her male-ID card.
HUNGER STRIKE FOR VEGAN DIET, SURGERY AND AGAINST SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Later when Diren was transferred to Tekirdağ Prison, she was placed in a single cell which is called “coffin-room” among inmates, her friend Kıvılcım Arat announced on January 30, 2018. Arat also added that due to denial of basic demands such as release from solitary confinement, removal of blocking an approved surgery and being allowed vegan-diet in prison, Diren Coşkun had started “indefinite hunger strike” as of January 25th.
DIREN’S FRIENDS ALSO JOINED THE HUNGER STRIKE
On day 12 of Diren Coşkun’s hunger strike, her friend Kıvılcım Arat who is also a spokesperson for LGBTI+ movement in Istanbul, has announced that she is also starting hunger strike in support & solidarity of her imprisoned friend. Arat has announced “as long as we tolerate a life slipping away before us, we will be responsible for death” and called for extensive solidarity for meeting Diren’s demands.
These demands are not so big as to harm the political authority or undermine the government. She is vegan and is being denied a proper diet. For months, she was given only boiled potatoes and tomatoes. Diren is calling for a basic and humane demand. I only want people to show some sympathy. Has anyone ever starved for 15 days just to see a doctor? All should consider that. When someone goes to get a medical examination they get exhausted, and there is a person who has been starving herself to death for 15 days, just to get treatment.
HUNGER STRIKE & OATH OF SILENCE
Irmak Keskin, one of the organizers of Istanbul Pride has announced that on February 13, she would also start a 3-day solidarity “hunger strike in silence” to draw attention to Diren’s demands. On her social media profiles, Irmak Keskin announced “against all odds and all those remaining in silence towards this, I will renounce my existence in a way and I will take an oath of silence and have no written or verbal communication throughout my 3-day hunger strike.” Keskin also reiterated that her strike is to not only draw attention to basic needs and demands of Diren Coşkun, but also to raise awareness regarding all LGBTI+ inmates that are being treated inhumanely in prisons.
HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION CLOSELY MONITORS DIREN
Long term human rights defender, former chairperson of Human Rights Association Istanbul Branch, Eren Keskin has visited Diren Coşkun in prison and stated that she had started hunger strike as a final resort, as she has been denied her basic demands and even her right to be transferred to an open-prison. Lawyer Keskin quotes Diren saying “I do not trust this system, I have lost all faith in the system and thus started indefinite hunger strike.” Lawyer Keskin also adds that Diren has been utterly disturbed by male prison guards searching her, especially when they touch her.
Lawyer Keskin also notes that she has tried to convince Diren against starting such a hunger strike, yet Diren continues living on water and sugar only. Lawyer Keskin observes Diren’s condition being psychologically and physically weakened but dedicated, wishing to see social solidarity. Lawyer Keskin finally notes that Human Rights Association’s Commission against Racism & Discrimination will closely monitor Diren’s condition.