Turkey: "HUMAN DIGNITY WILL DEFEAT TORTURE"

DHKC informationbureau Amsterdam dhkc at ozgurluk.xs4all.nl
Thu Sep 5 15:23:00 MDT 1996


"HUMAN DIGNITY WILL DEFEAT TORTURE"

A cry, coming from the dungeons of Metris, is spreading across the
country.  "...It was one of the first days in May. When the officer
came to count the prisoners and began to read the list of names, I
felt they were going to transport us to Metris. We had expected
something like this anyway... When my name was called, I wasn't
surprised. However, I can't say I wasn't excited at all. Although it
was a rather weak emotion, I felt it inside of me. They were going to
bring us to a new prison, a place we didn't know what to expect
from. ... At last we arrived at the so-called Metris-dungeon. From the
small holes in the transport bus I watched the outside of the
prison. The building in front of us was two floors high, almost
without windows, with a greyish-white plaster. With its barbed-wire,
the four guarding towers, looking like the legs of a huge wild animal,
its intertwined filthy-white blocks, resembling a labyrinth, Metris
can not be distinguished from the concentration camps as we know them
>from television. The architecture of these concentration camps was
specially planned to rob the political prisoners from their political
identity.

We waited for hours. We had no more strength left to stand on our
feet. Suddenly the doors of the bus were opened. They started to take
us out of the bus in groups of two or four prisoners. Those who got
out, suddenly disappeared out of sight, as if the earth had swallowed
them...

Then it was my turn. I had bruises everywhere and I couldn't even move
my hands. I had just left the bus, took the first step into the door,
when I was attacked from all directions. I was kicked from the right,
the left. Truncheons hit on me. I tried not to fall, in vain...

On both sides the soldiers formed a "corridor". We were led across
this corridor, kicked, beaten, hit with electric sticks..."

That's how the prison of Metris was opened in April, 1981. From now on
it would be its name which was mentioned when torture, cruelty and
resistance were the subject.


THE REVOLUTIONARIES WERE PREPARED FOR THE ATTACKS

The revolutionary prisoners knew what the opening of Metris
meant. That's why they were not unprepared. As soon as it became known
that the Metris-prison was to be opened, the prisoners from DK
(Revolutionary Liberation), P (Partisans), and EB (Labour Flag)
decided, after a proposal by the Devrimci-Sol prisoners in Sultanahmet
and other prisons, in case of a transportation to Metris: "We will not
obey the orders. The prisoners who are moved there will immediately
start a hunger strike in case of oppression, torture or
decrees. Prisoners who are moved there later, will join the hunger
strike".

Despite all the disagreements, this decision was put into practice in
Metris.  From the first day 50 prisoners participated in the first
hunger strike in Metris. The number of participants increased to more
than 200 after the new prisoners arrived.

The torturers of the junta started their attacks against the
revolutionary prisoners to break their will, to discourage them, and
to cause a organisatorial chaos. But the consequent resistance against
this attack crossed the plans of the junta in Metris. On the 18. day
of the resistance the governor of the martial law saw himself forced
to officially declare that the torture and oppression were going to be
stopped.

This had been the main demand of the resistance. With the promise that
this demand was going to be met, the hunger strike was ended. The
first round of the struggle in the dungeon of Metris was won by the
revolutionary prisoners.


THE SECOND LARGE HUNGER STRIKE

>From the middle of June, 1981, the "forced haircut" was
introduced. The constant oppression led to an uprising in the women's
block on July 10. The torturer major Adnan assaulted and insulted the
women and he received the appropriate answer. The revolutionary women
didn't let this attack against their dignity go unanswered and the
responded by hitting the major in his face.

At the end of July the attacks against the prisoners were increased
under the pretext of the forced haircut. At this time it was a "legal"
practice of the junta to move the prisoners from the prisons to police
stations to torture them there. With the beginning of one of these
transports to the police station, the police attacked the prisoners in
cell V-11 and E-11 with gas grenades.

The first anniversary of the junta was celebrated by the prison
administration of Metris with an attack. The TKP/ML prisoners were
brutally beaten on their way to and from the court, their hair was cut
with force. On September 14, the administration declared an
ultimatum. Before September 21, all prisoners had to obey the rules
and especially their hair had to be cut.

The administration of Metris took a new step to force the prisoners to
surrender. The Devrimci Sol prisoners proposed a hunger strike to
cross this plan. This proposal was discussed in the prisons. However,
many contributions to the discussion were not adequate for the
situation. Some said: "You are exaggerating the development". There
were also some who stated that "they will be forced to drop it after a
while." The discussion was still without results by September 21.
Regretfully, the enemy didn't wait for the end of the discussions in
the dungeon. As announced, the administration started their operations
on September 21. Special units attacked the cells and they tortured
the prisoners under the pretext that they had refused the
haircut. Still most of the political groups hadn't decided for the
hunger strike. The prisoners from the trials of Devrimci Sol, KSD,
Halkin Yolu and Partizan Yolu started the second large hunger strike
of Metris on September 22. Meanwhile the administration started
several manoeuvres to end the hunger strike and to set up the
non-participants against the participants. But these manoeuvres were
contra-productive. On the evening of September 27, all prisoners
joined the hunger strike. As proposed by the new participants, action
principles were decided and signed by all groups. "During the whole
action, no water with sugar will be taken; no medical examination will
be accepted; the action will only be ended in unison; when they talk
to one representative, it will be demanded that the other are present
as well and the agreement will only take effect when all
representatives are present."

On the 15. day of the resistance the commander of the 1. Army and the
officials of the martial law announced: "From now on no one will be
beaten again, visits by the lawyers may not be banned, whatever the
pretext..." However, these were only some of the demands of the
resistance, and besides, they knew what these promises, these "words
of honour by the military" were really worth. The hunger strike was
aimed at securing and expanding the rights of the prisoners. But those
who had grudgingly joined the hunger strike wanted to stop
immediately. They said "We can not achieve more" and "the participants
are physically and psychologically totally exhausted". The proposal by
the Devrimci Sol prisoners to continue the hunger strike with some
members of all the groups was not accepted. The EB and DY prisoners
were the first to end the hunger strike, ignoring the principles of
the action. Well, the action could also be continued without them. But
they were not the only ones to quit! The prisoners from the DK-trial
followed, and then the prisoners from the trials against the HK and
P. On October 8, the hunger strike was ended, involuntary.

THE FAMILIES GET TO KNOW METRIS EVEN BETTER

It were the days of the second large hunger strike in Metris. Some 60
relatives of the prisoners went to the court advisory board in the
Selimiye barracks to support the prisoners' demands. The counsellor
rejected to talk to them. Thereupon the relatives started a protest
action in the barracks. The commander of the area under martial law
ordered his soldiers to attack the families, to stop this "dangerous"
development in its tracks and 10 families were arrested. The families
were brought to Metris, to the prison were also their children were
held imprisoned.

Metris, December 15, 1981. Visiting day. 10 days ago the prisoner
Ismet Tas died, two days before he was to be released. He died because
he wasn't taken to hospital in time, despite his illness. He was the
first victim of Metris. The administration tried to cover its guilt
with a new wave of attacks. As the time of the attack they selected
the beginning and the end of the visits. On December 15, they even
attacked the prisoners during the visiting time. The soldiers attacked
the prisoners while they were inside the visiting cabins. The families
resisted this attack. Thereupon the soldiers attacked the relatives at
the other side of the window as well. Mothers, fathers and children
were mercilessly beaten.

Through these attacks the families got to know the reality of Metris
even better. And the more they saw, the more their hatred grew against
the tyranny. And the nearer they came to the ranks of the struggle.

THE "REFORMIST" PHASE IN METRIS

The public reactions to the 28 day long hunger strike resulted in
ending the open attacks in the prisons of Istanbul for the time being.

With this the "reformist" phase in Metris began.

But of course, this period could not last forever.

In the time of November 17-20, 1982, the military prison in
Davutpasa/Istanbul was evacuated. At the same time they closed the
prison in Hasdal and the prisoners from there were moved to Metris. On
May 2, 1983, the prison in Alemdag was evacuated. The newly arriving
prisoners were not brought to the empty cells, but to the already
completely packed cells to further worsen the situation of the
prisoners. The prisoners were forced to share beds.

In January 1983 the administrations of the military prisons were put
under command of the prison

co-ordination commission, under the responsibility of the general
staff. The aim was achieving the subjugation of the prisoners in all
prisons, before the junta of September 12 was to appoint a civilian
government.  In the beginning of 1983 the military prisons in Anatolia
insisted on introducing the prison uniforms.

On March 9, there was a special search operation in the cells of
Metris. On the orders of the commander of the 1. Army, Haydar Saltik,
all ball-points, pens and paper were confiscated. The razor blades
were confiscated as well. Only pencils were allowed. The prison
administration could confiscate "proof", needed for the defence. With
this decree, they were able to block the legal defence. On March 14,
the prisoners decided they would no longer write requests, letters,
etcetera. They would no longer permit to be interrogated, be it in
writing or verbal.

Then the visits were banned. From May 3, the prisoners in Metris were
denied to receive books. The longer the books were held back, the
larger the piles of books grew in the corridors. This procedure was
"the living proof that fascism is the enemy of science and culture, of
all human values". With the denial of the books, the "interim phase"
in Metris came to an end. In the corridors the sounds of the
truncheons and the slogans reverberated again. Once again, Metris was
showing its real face.


THE GREAT RESISTANCE, THE ACTION BREAKERS AND THE DEFEAT

July started with transports from Metris. From July 6-8, 1983, dozens
of revolutionaries were moved to Sagmalcilar/Istanbul. Sagmalcilar was
the first prison that was quickly opened in that period. This prison
was planned and built for isolation detention. Now especially the
prisoners were moved there who came forward during the actions of the
resistance. The enemy tried to isolate the heads of the resistance and
to destroy the structures. This way they wanted to achieve their
actual aim: forcing the prisoners to their knees.

After the announcement that the prison uniforms were to be introduced
with the opening of Sagmalcilar, the prisoners decided they would
start a hunger strike immediately. On July 8, the prisoners in Metris
began their hunger strike. Three days later, they were joined by the
prisoners in Sultanahmet, and a couple of days later by those in
Kabakoz. This made the hunger strike the biggest action, until then,
in the military prisons of Istanbul. In their reaction to the hunger
strike, the prison administration in Metris concentrated more on
psychological attacks, rather than physical ones. At first they
started to play very loud music, 24 hours a day, through all the
loudspeakers in the cells. The prisoners protested with several
actions, but the music was not turned off. On the 6. day of the hunger
strike they wanted to collect the tables and the chairs in the cells
with the pretext that they had to be renewed. The prisoners refused to
hand over the furniture. On July 15, the accused in the TIP-trial quit
the hunger strike. They had joined the hunger strike rather by chance,
their prisoners did not really back up the strike from the first
place.

On July 20, the physicians in Metris began to announce the
disadvantages of a hunger strike every hour. On the 17. day they
announced the speeches of the deserters. On the 18. day they announced
the decision by Haydar Saltik to reject all compromises with the
prisoners.

In short their plan looked like this: first the marches, then the
statements by the physicians, the speeches by the traitors, then the
announcement by Haydar Saltik... Then it began all over again. This
was done 24 hours a day, at the highest possible volume.

Of course, one can not say that these psychological attacks were
completely without effect. After the TIP-prisoners ended the hunger
strike, this was done as well by those who were accused in the
TKP-trial. The announcement by Haydar Saltik made clear that it was
going to be a long action. And some of the political groups had not
been prepared for such a case. Because they had really believed that
democracy would return after the elections of November 6, they
imagined that the oppression would not last very long, albeit that
they might have to wait four a couple of months.

The move of the EB-prisoners (Labour Flag) on the 20. day, "we should
leave Sagmalcilar besides and concentrate on solving our own problems"
met with approval by the opportunistic groups without any
problems. And so the discussions about ending the hunger strike were
on the agenda.

On the 19. day, contrary to the previous decision, and despite the
opposition of the DS and other prisoners, it was decided to demand
talks with the administration. They said: "Let's meet with them, take
whatever we can get, and end the action." This could only be a sign of
weakness towards the administration. And in the end it was. This
information and the mood were eventually known to the
administration. They rushed the transport of the leading prisoners.

On August 1, three representatives handed over the request to
talk. The administration of Metris didn't take this request
seriously. Thereupon the opportunists were discouraged and their
wavering increased. By that time the action became publicly known in
the whole country and in the rest of the world, and its effects grew
by the day, but some of the groups were just preoccupied with ending
the action.

Now they proposed to end the action without a meeting with the
administration. The prisoners from the DS-trial tried to get this idea
out of their heads. But it was useless, because the dissolvement in
the ranks of the political groups had already started. The
DS-prisoners demanded a decision by the prisoners council to continue
the action, at least till August 5, to achieve a half-way positive
result at least. But the opportunists even rejected this. They didn't
even permit a prolongation of a couple of days. On Wednesday, at
midnight, the action was ended under the leadership of the prisoners
>from the DY-, DK- and P-trials, without even warning the prisoners
>from DS. The main rule of the action, "without an end of the action in
Sagmalcilar, the action in Metris will not be ended", was broken. But
this was not all. In time there were more and more ruptures in the
structure. The prisoners of the DS-, DHB-, KSD-, PY, and TIKB-trials
were all against the decision to end the action. But in that moment,
when the action had been called of quite openly, it made no sense to
continue the action alone. And so the fourth major hunger strike ended
in defeat.

The first consequences of this defeat became obvious that same
evening. The prison administration which normally offered special diet
food after a hunger strike, now served a half-finished, sordid and
spicy soup, and they were quite amused. And in the canteen they did
not offer milk products.

The officers in Metris now behaved like commanders who won a victory
against another army.

AFTER THE DEFEAT

The systematic attack started 6 days after ending the hunger strike
with a general search. It was like a genuine pillage. All prisoner
were driven to the prison yard. Everything, food, soap, etcetera, was
made unusable on purpose. But besides this, all the books, school
books, televisions, radio's, medicines, glasses, flowers, court
documents and letters were collected. Now there were no more papers,
pencils, books, televisions, and radio's anymore, and they would keep
them for a very long time. While they had to wait till 9 p.m. in the
prison yard, they were forced by the prison administration to take of
their clothes. They resisted, and thus they were tortured.

And so the administration of Metris showed those who called of the
hunger strike in a very short time, where they hadn't been prepared
for.  On August 15, going out into the yard, and the possession of
almost all newspapers were banned. Only magazines which spread the
degenerate culture, like Hafta Sona, were allowed.

The prisoners were going to be forced to undress and get searched
whenever they were visited, went to court, to hospital or were going
to meet their lawyers. This humiliating practice was rejected by the
prisoners. Thereupon the prisoners were denied all contacts with the
outside world.

The prisoners form DS proposed a 10-point program to prevent the
intensifying of the defeat. In almost all fields, orders had to be
practically ignored.  The beatings started again. This kind of torture
was expanded and increased in such a way that discussions about a new
hunger strike were soon on the agenda again. The prison
administration, who knew about these discussions through their spies,
decreased the measure of torture.

THE PRISONERS COUNCIL

Without doubt it was impossible to continue the struggle without
forming organisations to build up the resistance and discipline
life. Already during the first years of the junta joint organisations
were formed in almost all prisons, even though they formally
differed. Also in Metris there was a prisoners council organised in
the summer months of 1981. In this prisoners council all revolutionary
groups were organised who participated in the struggle against the
prison administration and who represented the political identity of
prisoners. This council took decisions and was an executive organ as
well.

To speed up decisions and to constitute an initiative in the name of
the prisoners, a committee of the prisoners council was formed which
should take over the leadership in actions. Representatives of DS, DK,
P, HK, and later on DY as well, participated in this committee.

The political groups who were in the council before the hunger strike
>from July till August 1983 were the following: DS, DK, HK, P, DY, GKK,
TIKB, KSD, DHB, PY, Acilciler, HDO, Kawa, Emegin Birligi, Otonom, IS,
CY, CS, THKP-C, Savascilari (this group split in three, all these were
represented separately), Rizgari, Dev-Savas, HY, PK, EB and others.

After the hunger strike, which ended in defeat in 1983, or better:
which was defeated because of breaking the action, the DS-prisoners
declared they would continue to participate in the council, together
with the action breakers DK, P and DY, as if nothing had happened. In
fact a council evolved whit two leaderships. While one side aimed at
maintaining the status quo, the other side pursued the strategy of
resistance, constantly developing new tactics and politics.

After the hunger strike in 1983, also the Trotzkists, TKEH and the PKK
participated in the council. Because EB, Rizgari and the Trotzkists
accepted the prison uniforms on February 4, 1984, they were excluded
>from the council.

In April and June 1984, during the hunger strike till death, the
representatives of the status quo apparently found an excuse to break
the relations between the prisoners council and Devrimci Sol and the
TIKB, accusing them of separatists tendencies.

THE LAST ATTACKS BEFORE THE FIRST "CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT".

Before the elections the junta of September 12 multiplied its
oppression and its terror in all prisons. Thereupon the prisoners
started a hunger strike, at first in September in the prison of
Diyarbakir. The prisoners in Metris started a solidarity hunger
strike.

In the middle of October, new sanctions were imposed in Metris as
well. But the internal developments in the prisons constituted the
real attacks against the resistance. In this manner they started to
give up the successes of the resistance, achieved by the 10-point
program. At first they dropped the rule not to by writing material in
the prison shops, without any discussion. Then the rule not the send
letters or telegrams was dropped, an initiative by DK, agreed upon by
a very small majority.

The struggle in the prisons has always been a psychological struggle
as well. And it was a tactical war. Seen from this point, the decision
to drop these rules only served the enemy. The enemy, observing that
the prisoners constantly withdrew further after increased attacks,
intensified his attacks.


THE TEST OF THE PRISON UNIFORMS

On November 28, the prison of Metris was searched in a way what had
not been seen since August 14. The operation was directed by the head
of the torturers in Metris, major Muzaffer Akkaya himself. The
prisoners, who were brought to the corridors, were stripped naked and
their hands were cuffed behind their backs. For hours they had to
stand this way in the corridor. Then they tried to put them in the
prison uniform. The reaction was fierce, for the first time the
prisoners shouted the slogan "The torture major will beheld
responsible!'. The prison administration had to drop its intention to
implement the prison uniforms for the time being because of the
unforeseen resistance. But this was just for the time being, because
Metris was one of their tactical targets. The enemy had no intention
to stop the attacks and to cancel the prison uniforms, they tried to
force the prisoners in Metris on their knees by all means. Everybody
knew the subjugation of Metris would play in major role for all
prisons in Turkey. The prisons administration just changed their
tactics and extended their manoeuvring space by taking new
measures. And so they began to use isolation detention massively.

TWO PROPOSALS, TWO LINES.

The enemy insisted on the prison uniforms. The prisoners had to be
determined and prepared. A dignified resistance was to be developed in
the history of Metris. From this perspective the prisoners from the
DS-trial proposed a program, outlining the resistance after the attack
of November 28. This program, which rejected the prison uniform
decisively, was approved - with slight alterations - by the
majority. Against this common decision, the prisoners from the
DK-trial tried to push trough another proposal. They succeeded in
poisoning the atmosphere in the council by suggesting to take up
negotiations with the prison administration at all times to solve the
situation in this way. Even worse, They rejected to go on hunger
strike, despite the torture and oppression, but stated this could be
discussed. The prisoners from HK, P and DY joined this view. The
fronts were clear, but the necessary determined stand against the
prison uniforms was endangered because of this tactic by the
representatives of the status quo.

The prison administration knew about these discussions, and about the
both lines. The torturers of Metris used this situation to split the
prisoners. At the same time they hastened the move from leading cadres
>from the DS-trial to Sagmalcilar/Istanbul. Because they were the main
target for the state.

In the council there were two decisions, one form the block of HK, DY,
P and DK On the other there were the prisoners from DS, KSD, as well
as the TIKB. The other political groups either ignored the differences
between the two programs, or they behaved neutral to be represented on
both sides.

This dead-end could only be overcome by a HUNGER STRIKE TILL DEATH.

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