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17.12.2007

Hunger strike in Izyaslav Penal Colony

   

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group has received information that a group of prisoners held in the so-called “Monastery” of Izyaslav Penal Colony No. 58 have gone on hunger strike. 

The reasons given are that, according to the prisoners, the cells in “Monastery” are damp and cold, with water running down the walls; there is no ventilation ; the cells are not probably heated or insulated; there are single panes in the windows, with cracks in some of them; water is provided only three times a day for 40-50 minutes; there are rats; the quarantine unit is in premises with virtually no heating (it was used by the monastery to store bodies before burial), with the temperature almost the same as that on the street.  Prisoners are held there for 14 days, those with tuberculosis together with the other prisoners.  There is no medical treatment or medicine, and prisoners who have tuberculosis or are HIV-positive do not even receive vitamins, let alone specialized treatment. Nor are they allowed the requisite extra hour’s walk per day.  The prison shop sells food 1.5-2 times higher than market prices although quite often the products are off.

Prisoners also complain that the administration personnel are arbitrary in their handing out of administrative penalties and that there is no possibility of sending complaints outside the colony. Any attempt to express disgruntlement with unlawful actions of the administration or the bad conditions and lack of medical care leads to disciplinary penalties on any pretext and on the basis of falsified material. They also allege that the administration does not pay them for the work they do and they are made to do physically gruelling work supposedly “for the improvement of the colony”, this meaning as a rule, having to drag 30-kilogram loads of fuel for the boiler.

They claim that over the last four years, not one of them has been moved to a more lenient regime.

They plan to continue their hunger strike until they receive civilized conditions and until the other problems are resolved.  They are aware that the State Department for the Execution of Sentences could apply their usual tactic and bring in a special purpose unit. They stress that their protest is peaceful and non-violent.

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