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Kyrgyz Commission Checking Jails After Mass Hunger Strike By Inmates

An elderly man speaks in front of the government building during a protest of relatives of inmates on a hunger strike in jails on March 29.
BISHKEK -- A national commission has started checking conditions at Kyrgyzstan's prisons and detention centers after a mass hunger strike by thousands of prison inmates hit almost all jails in the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun told RFE/RL that the commission -- which comprises representatives from the government, parliament, ombudsman's office, and nongovernmental organizations -- has been visiting penitentiaries since March 30 to get acquainted with the conditions.

Akun said the commission is expected to outline recommendations for reforms and plans to improve conditions in the country's jails. It is not known when the commission's report will be finished.

A mass hunger strike that began in Kyrgyzstan's four major prisons on March 25 hadspread to virtually all other penitentiaries in the country by March 28. The strike by prisoners ended on March 30.

Dozens of inmates' relatives picketed the government and parliament buildings on March 27 and Monday March 28 demanding authorities intervene to resolve the situation.

Prisoners made several demands, including an improvement in their living conditions.

Kyrgyz jails hold some 10,000 inmates.

Read more in Kyrgyz here