Hungerstrike; Turkey [1/2] (fwd)

Spoon Collective spoons at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Sat Sep 14 11:52:27 MDT 1996


      Documentation regarding the Hungerstrike of political
                        prisoners in Turkey, 1996



                   THREE UNIONISTS JOIN THE DEATH FAST

Three unionists from Genel-Is joined the death fast in solidarity with
the prisoners. Their death fast was escorted by ten workers who went
on hunger strike.

Aynur KARAASLAN, specialist for organisations with Genel-Is, Aynur was
elected as unionist of the year in England in 1989: "For decades the
state is waging a brutal war against our people. The prisoners are
showing us the way with their resistance. They are not alone. We
solidarise with the prisoners. As revolutionary unionists we march
together with the prisoners in their death fast."

Mevsim GURLUK, 3. district chairman of Genel-Is: "We could not watch
the resistance in the prisons and keep silent. The prisoners were
arrested in their struggle for a free world. It would mean the end of
humanity if we accepted the annihilation attempts in the prisons
silently."

Sukru KARTAL, 1. district chairman of Genel-Is: "It is impossible to
separate the resistance in the prisons from the struggle by the people
in the factories, in the slums. We see the class struggle as a
whole. And we support the resistance by the prisoners."

                                Solidarity grows:

July 5: TODEF (Federation of Student Associations in Turkey) began an
unlimited solidarity hunger strike.

July 11: The workers in 27 offices of the weekly Kurtulus in Turkey
and abroad started a solidarity hunger strike in support of the death
fast by the prisoners. The DLMK (Struggle Committees for Democratic
Gymnasia) announced their solidarity hunger strike in support of the
death fast in a press statement.

July 12: Inhabitants of the neighbourhoods of Gazi and Okmeydani in
Istanbul started a solidarity hunger strike in several associations.

July 13: Inhabitants of the neighbourhood Nurtepe in Istanbul started
a solidarity hunger strike in the Alevite association.

                        The artists join the hunger strike

The members of the music groups Grup Yorum and Grup Ozgurluk Turkusu,
the actors of the Ayse Gulen People's Theatre, the workers form FOSEM
(Photography and Theatre Workers), the editors from the cultural
magazine TAVIR and the workers from the cultural centres Okmeydani and
Anadolu in Istanbul started a solidarity hunger strike.

           Solidarity hunger strikes and solidarity death fasts in
Europe

On July 19, 1996, six people (4 in Brussels and 2 in London) joined
the death fast. All over Europe solidarity committees were founded in
support of the Free Prisoners. Thousands of people participated in
numerous demonstrations, manifestations, meetings, occupations and
solidarity hunger strikes.

        Statements from several organisations in Europe and
word-wide...

Mrs. Myriam Vassenan, board member from Solidarite Socialiste (Belgian
human rights association):

"We have tried to do something in support. We have tried to get the
press and the representatives to address the problem. We succeeded -
albeit in part - in doing so. These events had a great impact on us. I
mourn about the 12 fallen revolutionary prisoners and their families,
but their death has not been in vain, and the goal was reached. THESE
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VERY COURAGEOUS."

Dr. Eckhard Fasher, regional spokesperson for the Grunen in Gottingen:

"We constantly followed the death fast in the prisons in
Turkey. During our stay in Turkey we received information from
spokespersons from the Human Rights Association (IHD) and lawyers from
the People's Lawyers Office. These people took the risk of dying, and
they died, "just" to get their natural, their democratic rights. The
conditions inside the prisons are so bad, the people there had no
other choice but to start a death fast. These are very BRAVE, HEROIC
and CONSCIOUS people. "

"This Mehmet Agar for instance is a man who must be sentenced and
punished. But this former chief of police is now in the ministry. And
Sevket Kazan is not the least different form Agar. We would want his
licence as a lawyer withdrawn and he should be brought to trial before
the European Human Rights Court for the death of 12 people."

"When the minister of Foreign Affairs Tansu Ciller came to Germany,
she depicted Turkey as "very beautiful".  She said all international
delegations could enter the prisons if they liked. However, despite
all the requests we are not allowed into the prisons and they try to
prevent us from speaking to the prisoners. We have heard that
broadcasts with pictures of the DHKP-C prisoners in Bayrampasa had
been interrupted on orders by Necmettin Erbakan. Because they feared
the reactions of the public would get stronger and the solidarity with
the prisoners would increase. However, they were unable to prevent
that these pictures were shown all over the world."

"The 'right' press depicts, with the co-operation of both governments,
Turkey as a democratic country and the Turkish left as terrorists. The
German government supports this."

"I would like to mention the mothers of the revolutionaries. The
German representative Heidi Lippmann Kasten says about Turkey: "Is a
state which beats its own mothers capable of shame?" I agree. The
contribution of the mothers to the political struggle of the prisoners
is very high."

"Today we could not enter the Turkish prisons, but this doesn't mean
we give up. We would like to go inside to talk to the
revolutionaries. We will keep on trying. We will get inside."

International democratic institutions and revolutionary organisations
protested against the oppression in the Turkish prisons as well. Some
of them tried to support the prisoners through their governments, some
of them showed their support in messages: "THIS VICTORY BELONGS TO ALL
PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, THE MARTYRS ARE THE MARTYRS OF ALL PEOPLE IN THE
WORLD."

The representative Pauline Green wrote a letter to Clinton on behalf
of the Socialist Faction in the European Parliament and she called
upon the USA to warrant its role as "world police " and to solve the
problems in the Turkish prisons. Furthermore she wrote a very strong
letter to Erbakan in which she called upon him to respect the human
rights and to accept the demands.

The Greek Committee for International Democratic Solidarity started a
solidarity hunger strike and it called upon all Greek democrats to
support the political prisoners in Turkey.

The spokesperson of the Indian Socialist Unity Centres, Manik
Mukherjee, stated: "We would like to announce our solidarity with the
heroic peoples in Turkey and we vehemently protest the murdering by
torture of political prisoners and the barbaric attitude of the
authorities."

Jeremy Cronin, Deputy General Secretary from the South African
Communist Party wrote to the DHKC informationbureau Amsterdam:

"Dear comrades, On behalf of the South African Communist Party, we
salute the heroic and extraordinarily courageous struggle waged by
Turkish political prisoners. Please convey our solidarity and
admiration to all comrades in prison and to their families and the
organisations of which they are members.

In SA, in the period of apartheid oppression, our political prisoners
launched many campaigns, including extended hunger strikes. We agree
with you that prisons are themselves the site of class struggle. In
the course of three decades we were able to transform apartheid
prisons into real cadre schools, much of the present leadership of our
liberation alliance emerged from the "univerisity" of the apartheid
prisons.

We hope to put you into contact, also, with our association of
ex-political prisoners. Please keep us informed of your ongoing
struggles. We wish to give whatever political support we are able."

The Communist Party of the Philippines wrote to the DHKC
Informationbureau Amsterdam:

"The Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army, the
National Democratic Front and the broad masses of the Filipino people
have firmly supported the revolutionary and antifascist political
prisoners in Turkey in the course of their 69-day death fast and
hunger strike since 20 May 1996 against the harsh conditions of their
incarceration and against the worsening oppression and exploitation of
the Turkish and Kurdish people.

The Turkish fascist authorities have made the conditions of political
prisoners extremely inhuman and intolerable and have sought to isolate
them from each other in stifling cells. Hating what the political
prisoners stand for, the fascists fear that their own prisons have
become schools of revolution. They seek to break the will of the
political prisoners and wish to prevent them from performing their
revolutionary role. But the political prisoners have fought back
courageously, selflessly and successfully.

In the face of the resolute death fast and hunger strike, the outrage
of the people in Turkey and world public opinion in favor of the
political prisoners, the Turkish fascist authorities have retreated
and accepted most of the demands of the political prisoners and have
made promises to end the worst conditions of imprisonment.

We pay the highest tribute to the 12 martyrs who have made the supreme
sacrifice and to the hundreds who have suffered permanent or serious
damage to their health. We congratulate all the more than 2,000
political prisoners for their success in calling attention to their
intolerable conditions and to the plight of the people, in rousing the
people to unite and intensify their revolutionary struggle and in
compelling the Turkish counterrevolutionaries to retreat.

We salute the alliance of revolutionary parties and organizations for
uniting to support the political prisoners and to fight the Turkish
fascist authorities and the imperialists in connection with the death
fast and hunger strike. In the face of the increasingly harsh
political conditions spawned by the worsening social crisis of the
ruling system in Turkey, there is an urgent need for the revolutionary
and antifascist forces and people to undertake a broad democratic mass
movement.

Even as they have been compelled to make a retreat concerning the
conditions of political prisoners, the Turkish fascist authorities
continue to find and apply ways of putting the squeeze on the
political prisoners, harming their physical and mental well-being,
hampering worthwhile collective activities in prison and vilifying the
political prisoners and their supporters in Turkey and abroad. We
condemn the tactics of terror and deception incessantly pursued by the
Turkish fascists. We must remain vigilant and militantly concerned.

The political prisoners have to continue their struggle in various
forms. They are inspiring the broad masses of the people outside of
prison to intensify and raise their revolutionary struggle to a new
and higher level in order to liberate themselves from the ruling
system which is also a prison.

Amidst the worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the new
world disorder, the revolutionary movements of the Turkish and Kurdish
peoples are brilliant and hopeful. In their strategic part of the
world, there are revolutionary parties and organizations striving to
fight and defeat the imperialists and local reactionaries and realize
national liberation, democracy and socialism"

Central Committee Communist Party of the Philippines 7 August 1996

The Communist Party of Sudan announced their protest in a statement
and they demanded the immediate release of the prisoners.

Even the representative of the English Labour Party, Diane Abbott, as
well as the representatives D. Wigley and D. Hoyle, as well as the
chairman of UNISON, L. Richard regarded the attitude of the Turkish
government as unbelievable.

The Green Club, represented in the Austrian parliament, demanded the
improvement of the prison conditions and the acceptance of the
prisoners' demands in a protest letter to the Turkish president,
Suleyman Demirel.

The representative of the Grunen/Bundnis "90, Heidi Lippmann Kasten,
called upon all to support the resistance: "Everybody should do
everything in his power."

In a press statement the PDS called upon the German federal government
to monitor the violations of human rights. The PDS was on the side of
the resistance in the Turkish prisons. Member of parliament Rolf Kohne
declared his protest against the circumstances in the Turkish prisons.

The Grunen announced their support of the resistance in the Turkish
jails and the called upon the federal government as well as the
authorities in Turkey to take measures. They criticised the attitude
of the German government.

In Germany, among others the International Solidarity Group, the
Humbold University in Berlin and the Association of Democratic
Physicians announced their support of the resistance and they called
upon the Turkish government to give up it wrong and stubborn attitude.

The human rights delegation from Germany and Belgium, which was in
Istanbul from July 29 till August 1, was prevented by the minister of
Justice Sevket Kazan to meet the spokesperson of the political
prisoners in the Bayrampasa prison. The delegation pointed to the fact
that most statements by the minister of Justice Sevket Kazan, as well
as by the minister of the Interior Mehmet Agar, contained lies and
they found them guilty, together with the prison administrations, the
guards and the state prosecutors, of the death of 12 people. They
demanded that the responsibles be put on trial. Furthermore the
delegation announced they would petition to the European Court to
withdraw the lawyers' licence of Sevket Kazan, and they would demand
that Sevket Kazan would be put on trial before the European
Court. They called upon the German government to stop the economic,
political and military aid.

The responsible for international relations for the Belgian Party of
Labour (PTB), Dirk van Duppen, stated:

"The hunger strikes are an example of revolutionary values. We should
organise our militants, our youth and politically active people in
this manner. Even if these demands by the prisoners are not the last
step toward igniting the revolution, they are legitimate and just and
that's why it was very important that the prisoners continued till the
end, despite all oppression. "

"The revolutionary forces in Turkey should know we were very happy
about these last victories against the fascist regime in Turkey, these
victories are very important. We, as well as our party, will try even
harder as before to educate our youth with a internationalist way of
thinking. The solidarity between the revolutionary forces in Belgium
and Turkey should become even more active. We should join forces for
the cause of the international proletariat against the same enemy."

The opinion of the Belgian lawyer Jan Fermon, who went to Turkey with
a delegation during the death fast:

"The resistance has been very important. I think it was the first time
in many years that the Turkish government had to acknowledge such a
defeat publicly against such a mass resistance. This was a great
victory against the government. On the international level we have to
split the solidarity in two. The democratic and progressive
organisations showed active solidarity in this event. They were very
impressed by the consciousness of the political prisoners and they
have tried to do something. In the first phase there has been limited
information about what was going on. This was very sad. But when the
necessary information arrived, they started to work sincerely and
seriously." "The situation was totally different for the classical
political forces, those who govern Europe. The parties, delegates and
representatives of the majority are saying now that they have been
misled by the Turkish government. We can not accept such a
statement. Because they know too well that human rights are constantly
violated in Turkey. It sounds insane when they claim they only saw the
truth now. Although they perfectly knew what was happening in Turkey,
they supported the Turkish government military, economically and
politically. And if we do not fight this, force them to take other
decisions, they will continue to do so."

A message of the Solidarity Committees with the Political Prisoners in
the USA, reads: "This victory belongs to all people of the world and
the martyrs are the martyrs of all people in the world."

A message by Merkelbach, on behalf of the Dutch prime minister, stated
that the Foreign Office ordered an investigation of the circumstances
inside the Turkish prisons.

The Tamil Eelam Liberation Tigers in Sri Lanka declared: "This victory
will be an example for our struggle."

               The opinion of several lawyers about the death fast

Ahmet Duzgun Yuksel, lawyer of the People's Lawyers Office, who was
involved in the negotiations between the revolutionaries and the
government:

"With the appointment of former chief of police, Mehmet Agar, as
minister of Justice, an increased policy of aggression started against
the political prisoners. The prisoners said: "the state is approaching
us with courage, we will have to engage them with even greater
courage." On this basis the prisoners have enlarged their protest
actions in all prisons, onto the death fast."

"The new minister of Justice, Sevket Kazan, looked sour after the
first prisoners fell, because he had insured before: "I don't belief
there will be deaths." Only after the first prisoners died, minister
of justice Sevket Kazan began to understand. They had not expected
such a strong resistance. They tried to break the resistance, rather
than solving the problems."

The opinion of lawyer Filiz Bozuglu who met the prisoners during the
death fast:

"When the uprising started, the prisoners posed some legitimate and
just demands. Primarily the prisoners demanded an end to
arbitrariness. They wanted their natural rights. They wanted to be
treated as humans, with dignity. But they did not want these rights
just for themselves, all prisoners should have these rights. That's
the reason why the Turkish government never presented all the demands
in a right manner to the press. And those who wanted to present them
to the press, found all kinds of obstacles on their way. When the
demands had been known to the public, the government would not have
been able to say they could not accept these demands.  Therefore they
desperately looked for a way out. When the prisoners began to die,
proving their determination, they couldn't say any longer: "they will
not die, they are eating in secret." We as lawyers and representatives
of the prisoners used all legal possibilities. But when they break
their own laws, what can we do? At this point who had to put pressure
on them in a different way. At this point, only the determination of
the prisoners in the death fast could achieve something."

The opinion of the lawyer Zeki Ruzgar from the People's Lawyers
Office:

"They said they were proud to be part of the death fast because they
were demanding a human treatment for all prisoners, not just for
themselves. This was their duty. Because the state had opened the
battle against the political prisoners. The political prisoners had no
other possibility but to engage in battle, and they did so with
pride."

The opinion of the lawyer Metin Narin from the People's Lawyers
Office:

"When the hunger strike was transformed into the death fast, we knew
this death fast was carried out for the people's movement. But the
whole dimension only became apparent during the death fast. When I met
them, the first thing they wanted to know was: "What are our people
doing, what are they thinking?" During the last minutes, the people
were all that mattered."

"They were right, and they woke the whole world."

"There is one important thing we have learned from the death fast. The
people went through a phase of self-criticism., to take up the fight
even more sincere. We all try to make this ideology, these thoughts
and this love for the people. our own. In this phase we had the
opportunity to test our own values, to test our own will to engage in
the struggle with determination."

The lawyer Esber Yagmurdereli who was involved in the negotiations:
"The fact that so many organisations came together, waging this
resistance together, that's an important step in comparison to the
past. In other words, the fact that so many organisations worked
together to achieve this victory, that's a very important
development."

_________END PART 1___________



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