More than 350 Taliban inmates began a hunger strike Nov. 8 at the Sarposa prison in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The protest is in response to harsh conditions, including abuse by guards. The Afghan Ministry of Justice has sent a delegation to the prison to investigate. The Justice Ministry fears a potential prison break attempt, after authorities reportedly learned that trucks loaded with explosives were instructed to destroy the prison walls. Millions of dollars have been spent in the last year in an effort to bolster security at the prison. The Afghan government has also increased the armed presence at the facility in recent days.
Last June, at least 870 inmates—with some reports estimating the number as being closer to 1,100—escaped Sarposa prison after Taliban militants conducted a bomb and rocket attack at the facility. Last year’s prison break came just a month after an estimated 200-300 prisoners had ended a similar hunger strike. The detainees were then protesting the slow nature of the Afghanistan justice system and complaints that judicial rulings were being made based on allegations by US authorities. The hunger strike lasted for approximately one week. (Jurist, Nov. 10)