More than 1,300 Kyrgyz prisoners have sewn their lips together with wire as part of a protest against poor living conditions at their jail.
Protests took a gruesome turn after prison authorities tried to force-feed inmates who had been on hunger strike following a riot in which one person died.
The prisoners want more freedom of association after the last common cell, where they were at liberty to wander around day and night, was shut down, according to Al Jazeera.
About 370 inmates at Bishkek's Holding Facility No 1 sewed their mouths shut on 23 January as protests escalated. The protest quickly spread to nine other prisons.
State Corrections Service chief Sheishenbek Baizakov said the authorities would not meet prisoners demands, even though the strike has left some inmates in a critical condition.
"This will never happen," Baizakov said. "Let them all sew their mouths shut."
Authorities accused criminal gang leaders inside the prisons of masterminding the protests.
Rights campaigner Tolekan Ismailova denied the claim.
"Those on hunger strike are against inhumane conditions," she told the Victoria Times Colonist. "They don't have medicine, normal food, linen or soap. Their illnesses are not treated because there are not enough doctors."The mouths are stitched together in such a way that only liquids can pass through their mouths.