A group of Afghan prisoners has sewn their lips closed to protest serving their sentences outside their home provinces, according to an online story by Ayesha Tanzeem at voanews.com.
The movement started when 300 prisoners, who are being held just outside of Kabul, went on a hunger strike against a presidential decree that denies them the right to do their time near their homes and families. Of those 300, about 20 inmates stitched their lips sealed in silent solidarity, Tanzeem reported.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior confirmed the hunger strike but declined to comment on whether any inmates had sewn their mouths shut. A joint delegation of Interior officials and attorneys general plans to meet with the protesters to discuss their demands at the Pul-i-Charkhi prison near the nation’s capital of Kabul, said Najib Danish, an Interior spokesperson.
The protesters also want to be considered for routine presidential pardons that are typically granted around religious holidays, such as the Muslim holy festival of Eid, said Abdul Halem Kohistani. He is the official in charge of prison protests.
Hundreds of prisoners at this same facility had gone on a hunger strike earlier this year over claims of human rights violations. This is not the first time that Afghanis have sewn their lips shut to draw attention to their prison conditions.
Human rights groups have criticized the conditions at Afghan prisons. A 2015 report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan revealed that one-third of Afghan prisoners were mistreated or tortured during their detention.
Mohammad Hasham Alakozai, an Afghan senator, said that among the protesters are some arrested on drug-smuggling charges and some with links to the Taliban.