Turkish Police Launch Deadly Assault On Fasting Prisoners

At 4 a.m. on Dec. 19 the Turkish government sent police and
army riot squads armed to the teeth into 20 prisons where
over 1,100 political prisoners were conducting a hunger
strike. Almost 300 prisoners were on a death fast. As of 7
p.m., the assault had left 20 people dead, including 18
prisoners and two police, according to BBC News.

At 4 a.m. on Dec. 19 the Turkish government sent police and
army riot squads armed to the teeth into 20 prisons where
over 1,100 political prisoners were conducting a hunger
strike. Almost 300 prisoners were on a death fast. As of 7
p.m., the assault had left 20 people dead, including 18
prisoners and two police, according to BBC News.

The prisoners were protesting plans to separate inmates into
individual cells–the so-called Type-F prisons. They
demanded to remain in dormitory prisons where they could
continue to have contact with each other.

While the regime presented the assault as an attempt to stop
the hunger strikers from dying, other reports say troops
opened fire on some of the prisoners and beat many more.
Police were armed with explosives and heavy weapons,
according to reports from Turkish revolutionary groups.

In some prisons the fasting prisoners set themselves on
fire. In all places they fought back against the vicious
attack from the Turkish state.

According to Turkish Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk, two
prisoners in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa prison died after setting
themselves on fire. A third inmate was shot and killed by
soldiers in Istanbul’s Umraniye prison after setting himself
on fire and rushing toward soldiers, he said. Prisoner or
prisoner-support sources have not yet verified Turk’s
statements as to how the prisoners died.

TYPE-F MEANS TORTURE, ISOLATION

The revolutionary and anti-imperialist prisoners have been
on a hunger strike since Oct. 20 to stop their transfer to
Type-F prisons. The new prisons are modeled on U.S. maximum-
security, behavior-modification prisons. These impose high-
tech total isolation in order to break down prisoners’
morale and control them politically.
This total isolation of all prisoners combines physical and
psychological torture.

About 12,000 of the almost 72,000 prisoners in Turkey are
political prisoners. These include members of different
communist organizations, Kurds, writers, journalists and
members of Muslim groups.

The Turkish state imposes truly horrible conditions on the
leftist and Kurdish political prisoners, turning prisons
into centers of torture. Prison guards and soldiers
frequently murder prisoners. Last year prison guards and
soldiers attacked political prisoners in Ulucanlar prison,
killing 10 of them.

According to a Reuters report from Istanbul, an official of
the Human Rights Association, which closely monitors
prisons, said she knew of at least five deaths from self-
immolation or gunshot wounds during raids on several jails.
"The so-called life-saving operation by the Justice Ministry
is causing deaths," she said.

Turkey, a NATO member, is a client state of the Western
imperialist powers and has especially close ties to the
United States and Germany. Both Western powers supply
weapons and training to the Turkish army even as it crushes
the movement in Kurdistan. The Pentagon used Turkish air
bases to launch air attacks on Iraq and Yugoslavia.

Author: John Catalinotto

News Service: Workers World News Service

URL: http://www.workers.org/ww/2000/turkey1228.html