Turkish Authorities Attack Prisoners in
The following press release was put out by the Campaign
for Human Rights in Turkey on July 28. The Campaign was launched by the
Liverpool Dockers Shop Stewards Delegation to Turkey, July
At Bergama Prison on 25-07-2000 the prison authorities
started to conduct what they called a "search" of the prison,
involving a heavy military and fire brigade presence, bulldozers and
ambulances. All roads to the prison have been blocked. Gunfire has been heard
and smoke has been seen rising from the building. The authorities are now
holding a siege around the prison and are waiting for further attacks.
According to Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk, "one of the prison cells
has been burnt down and two others are now unusable. We cannot concede the
prisoners' demands. Some of the damage was caused by prisoners and some by the
security forces." The pretext for the authorities' attack was the alleged
discovery of a prisoners' escape tunnel. It is not known to what extent the
prisoners have suffered injury in the course of this "search".
A two hour negotiation has taken place between prison
representatives and the authorities, including the Bergama Republic Attorney
General. Although the prisoners have accepted the authorities' orders that a
count be taken of the prisoners and that they be put ten to a cell, apparently
no formal agreement has yet been reached. The prisoners are requesting that
cell doors, while locked at night should be unlocked during the day.
Prisoners' relatives are waiting anxiously for news at the
barricade outside the prison, while fearing another assault on the prisoners.
Attacks by the authorities on political prisoners are
commonplace in Turkey. Other occasions when prisoners were either killed or
injured in such attacks are: 21 September 1995 in Buca Prison; 4 January 1996
in Umranlye Prison; 24 September 1996 in Diyarbakir; 26 September 1999 in
Ulucanlar Prison; 5 July 2000 in Burdur Prison. Successive governments have
always targeted political prisoners. Most recently the government's aim has
been to introduce isolation cell (F-type) prisons. The aim is to isolate
prisoners so that they can more easily be subjected to systematic torture and
intimidation (which can sometimes lead to deaths). Two months ago the Turkish
Human Rights Association launched a nation-wide campaign against these prisons.
This campaign has wide support from human rights associations, democratic
organisations, trade unions, and some political parties.
Reactions to the events at Bergama Prison:
Political parties EMEP, ODP and SIP together with KESK
(Public Workers Union), Genel-Is (General Workers Union) and the Human Rights
Association held a press conference calling on the authorities to guarantee the
lives of the prisoners and denouncing the attack as another step towards
establishing F-type prisons. Several trade union branches called on the
authorities to stop committing crimes against humanity. Yesterday the Istanbul
Branch of the Human Rights Association held a press conference only to have it
attacked by the police. 15 of those present were arrested, including the
chairwoman Eren Keskin. Writers and intellectuals pledged themselves to hold a
one-day hunger strike against F-type prisons. The Contemporary Lawyers
Association denounced the authorities' attacks as deliberate provocation
intended to stop agreement being reached with any of the prisoners' demands.
Students from Istanbul, Marmara and Yildiz Universities yesterday took part in
demonstrations in defence of the prisoners, then found themselves under attack
by the police, with 50 students being arrested. Political prisoners from other
prisons have also condemned the events at Bergama.
It is feared that unless there is sufficient opposition
nationally and internationally, the Turkish authorities may initiate another
bloody attack on the prisoners in order to threaten and intimidate them. This
is what has happened in the past.