January 24, 2012 - 19:30 AMT
Kyrgyz prisoners sow lips in hunger strike

More than 400 prisoners in former Soviet Kyrgyzstan have sown their lips together in protest at conditions in the Central Asian state’s jails.

As The Telegraph reported quoting RFE/RL, the prisoners resorted to sewing up each others’ mouths after staff tried to break a week-long hunger strike by force feeding them.

Prisoners across Kyrgyzstan’s jails had been on a hunger strike since Jan 17 after the security forces fought inmates at a detention centre in Bishkek, the capital. Reports said that one prisoner was killed and dozens injured in the fighting.

Hunger strikes are relatively common in Kyrgyzstan’s prisons but Sheishenbek Baizakov, the Kyrgyz State Corrections Chief Service, told a press conference in Bishkek that the prisoners’ demands would not be met.

“This will never happen,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying. “Let them sew their mouths shut.”

Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Like the other former Soviet states in Central Asia, conditions in its prisons are notoriously poor.