Turkish hunger strike

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Nov 24 09:52:01 MST 2000



Hunger Striking Turk Inmates Weaken on 'Death Fast'

By REUTERS

Filed at 11:18 a.m. ET

ANKARA (Reuters) - The health of some Turkish inmates on the 35th day of a
``death fast'' hunger strike over planned prison changes has begun to fail,
a human rights worker said on Friday.

More than 800 leftist Turkish prisoners across the country have gone on
hunger strike to protest against government plans to transfer inmates from
large wards to cells. Forty inmates were beginning to see the symptoms of
failing health for refusing all food and water after vowing to fast until
death.

``The situation is growing worse. Many of the hunger strikers are losing
their vision and have memory loss,'' said Mesut Cetiner of the Human Rights
Association (IHD), which is monitoring the unrest.

Eleven prisoners starved to death in 1996 in a protest against prisoner
transfers.

The Justice Ministry declined to comment for this story.

The Anatolian news agency said 31 protestors at a jail in the western city
of Aydin had quit the strike on Thursday.

Another 815 protesters are drinking small amounts of water mixed with
sugar, Cetiner said.

Some 30 relatives of the protestors have also gone on hunger strike in
Ankara and the southeastern city of Adana, he said.

``We're already dead in our homes as we watch our sons die,'' sobbed a
mother of a hunger striker at an IHD press conference earlier this week.
``I gave a healthy son to the system and I want a healthy son to come home.''

Plans to transfer prisoners to maximum security jailhouses have sparked
criticism among inmates, families and rights activists. They argue the
cells, which hold one to three people, will isolate prisoners, leaving them
vulnerable to assault.

Turkish police are often accused of torturing those in their custody.

But authorities say the cell system meets European standards and, moreover,
will break the influence of organized criminals and political prisoners who
recruit and run gangs in the dormitory-style wards with weapons smuggled in
from the outside.

The government has proposed a general amnesty that would free tens of
thousands of felons to ease the overcrowding.

The IHD's Cetiner says the amnesty would not affect the hunger strikers,
because the legislation excludes those convicted of political crimes.


Louis Proyect
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