Turkey's justice minister says imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan will be allowed regular visits by his lawyers to his island prison.

Abdulhamit Gul announced the decision Thursday amid a hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners across Turkey who are demanding improved conditions for Ocalan, including permission for family members and lawyers to visit.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is preparing to court Kurdish votes ahead of a repeat mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23.

Lawyers visited Ocalan on Imrali island, off Istanbul, on May 2, and relayed a message asking that the hunger strikes end. It was the first time lawyers were able to see him since 2011.

Ocalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, has been serving a life prison term since 1999.