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Four Armenian Prisoners Launch Dry Hunger Strike to Demand Surgeries

Four prisoners in Yerevan's Convicts' Hospital penitentiary have gone on a dry hunger strike on Wednesday to demand proper medical care, Aravot newspaper reported Thursday. Convicts Vahe Andreasyan, Armen Mkrtchyan, Artur Gasparyan and Harutyun Keghbetsyan, who insist that they need urgent surgeries, have also wrote letters to Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, human rights ombudsman Arman Tatoyan, the ministers of health and justice, and the head of the justice ministry's penitentiary department, asking the officials not to neglect them. 

Artur Gasparyan, a native of the town of Azatavan in Armenia's Ararat province, sent a letter to justice minister Arpine Hovhannisyan more than two weeks ago;  having received no response, the prisoner launched a hunger strike, announcing that he was going to a conscious death and placing the responsibility on the minister.

“Artur was imprisoned on June 27. His health deteriorated sharply in July, and he was transferred to the  Convicts' Hospital from the Armavir jail, where he underwent a two-month compulsory drug abuse treatment. Then the prisoner was transferred to the hospital's surgical department. According to Gasparyan's letters to the above-mentioned officials, the prisoner requires an urgent surgery, but the penitentiary refuses to carry one out. Artur writes that his upper and lower jaws have rotted and gone black, his lower jaw is broken and there is an open wound in the area. His internal organs – the kidneys, the stomach, the liver – are also out of order. 

“Armen Mkrtchyan has leg issues. According to his relatives, the prisoner will not last even two days if he doesn't end the hunger strike. 43-year-old Mkrtchyan, who insists that none of his internal organs work properly, is also demanding surgery.

“Furthermore, the hunger-striking prisoners complain that they have no way of acquiring painkillers and ask their relatives and friends to bring them some,” the paper wrote.