In an effort to protest the poor living conditions of a Kyrgyzstan prison, nearly 7,000 prisoners joined in on a hunger strike Wednesday. When prison guards attempted to force feed the prisoners, more than 1,000 of the inmates responded by sewing their lips together with staples and thread.

Authorities insist that the protest was instigated by criminal gang leaders who have been forcing prisoners to self mutilate in order to act out against the prison's strict new regulations. However, Tolekan Ismailova, a Kyrgyz human rights activist, explains that the strikes were in fact triggered by poor prison conditions.

Those on hunger strike are against inhumane conditions, says Ismailova to the Agence France-Presse. They dont' have medicine, normal food, linen, or soap. Their illnesses are not treated because there are not enough doctors.

Kyrgyzstan's jails are notoriously overcrowded and since 2005, there have been numerous protests and self mutilations in order to bring attention to the extremely impoverished conditions of the jail.