IRSP: Interim Report on Turkish Delegation

Danielle Ni Dhighe nidhighe at
Thu Sep 27 17:39:36 MDT 2001

Report from IRSP delegation visit to Armutlu, Istanbul, Turkey, 16th-
23rd September, 2001.

Terry Harkin - IRSP International Department
Paul Little - IRSP Ard Chomhairle (National Executive)
Michael Og Devine - Derry IRSP

The IRSP delegation was part of a nine person delegation from
Ireland. Those who also travelled were Alec McCrory, Robert Russell,
Patrick McCotter, Jim McVeigh (Belfast Committee), James O'Sullivan
(Dublin Committee), Alex Maskey (Sinn Fein MLA), and Rory O'Driscoll
(London IKM), who coordinated the visit.

The first part of the delegation travelled to Turkey and was arrested
and held for an hour in Istanbul. When they were released, they were
then followed throughout the remaining days. They managed to lose the
Turkish police on a number of occasions by splitting up and at
different times during the week they all got into Armutlu for short
periods to see the death fasters.

The second part of the delegation, which included the IRSP
representatives, was met at the airport and brought directly into
Armutlu were they stayed for the duration of the visit.


Armutlu is the district of Istanbul were the TAYAD death fasters
live. It is essentially a shanty town carved into the side of one of
the seven mountains that comprise the ancient city of Istanbul. The
district has a population of 6-8000 and was established over twenty
years ago by the DHKP-C who seized the land from the rich capitalists
who intended to build holiday hotels etc. The DHKP-C handed the land
over to local people and the shanty town emerged over a number of
years. When we arrived in Armutlu we found a community under siege
from the Turkish military and police, but it was a community  unbowed
and unbroken.

In the week prior to our arrival in Armutlu, the DHKP-C had lost two
volunteers--one in a bombing in Taksim Square police headquarters and
one death fast volunteer. The area had been attacked during the
funeral of Umus Sahingoz, a 32-year old member of the Marxist group
Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), who died on
deathfast. The area had been attacked by Turkish government forces
using different types of CS gas produced and supplied by the US.

We spoke to victims of the gas attack including at least one death
faster, the gas is a special gas that does not damage clothing but
causes extreme acid type burns on the skin. We took photographs of
empty cartridges and samples for scientific examination in
Ireland. We also have the address of the manufactures in America.

Following the state attack on the funeral of Umus Sahingoz, the local
resistance had barricaded the Armutlu district to keep the state
forces out and it was into this tense atmosphere that our delegation
were welcomed by the people of Armutlu.

The agenda and itinerary for our delegation was severely disrupted by
the state security forces and the difficulties with getting
interpreters due to the threat to them by the Turkish state, which
cannot be overstated, but by the end of the week, between the
delegation in Armutlu and our colleagues, who were staying outside,
we met all the groups that we were supposed to meet.


In the early hours of Thursday 20th September Abdulbari Yusufoglu, a
member of TAYAD, the relatives solidarity group, died after 137 days
on death fast in Armutlu.  Abdulbari was twenty-one years old and
came from the Izmir area of western Turkey and we had the honour of
speaking with him two days before his death. The delegation took part
in the burial rights for the death faster before he was removed for
interment in is home town. Overall it is the opinion of the
delegation that the people of Armutlu, the death fasters and their
families are of the highest integrity. Their dignity in the face of
such oppression is a salutary lesson for us all. It is worth a
special mention that all members of the delegation have been deeply
affected by their time spent amongst the death fasters in Armitlu and
that Michael Og Devine, although it was extremely difficult for him,
coped well when faced with the full horror of what is being allowed
to happen in Turkey.  It was an honour to be able to pay our tribute
to Abdulbari Yusufoglu in person.

Over the week of our delegation visit we spent the most of our time
with the DHKP-C in Armutlu and had a number of meetings with the
TAYAD (Solidarity hunger strikers outside the prisons and families
and supporters) death fasters. We also met with death fast
representatives from the KM(ML) Turkish Communist Party (Marxist-
Leninist) and a delegation of Turkish human rights lawyers. We also
had a visit and interview with the editorial staff of the left wing
human rights magazine VATAN, which has been raided and suppressed on
a number of occasions by the Turkish state. On the Friday we held a
press conference outside the main death fast house in Armutlu.
Approximately ten television crews attended the press conference,
which was given by Paul Little (Belfast Committee), James O'Sullivan
(Dublin Committee), Michael Og Devine (Derry Committee), Terry Harkin
(IRSP International Department).

It is our considered opinion that both the prisoners and their
supporters will continue on hunger strike until the situation inside
the prisons is resolved. The first step on the road to a resolution
will be to initiate dialogue between the Turkish state and the
prisoners representatives. The prisoners and their supporters  would
welcome this dialogue.

We recommend that all International pressure that can be garnered
together is brought to bear on the Turkish government to initiate
this dialogue.

The prisoners demands are, we believe, legitimate and just and
constitute basic human rights, the seven demands are:

Demands of the resisting prisoners

1) Architectural and legal reforms have to be made to the F-Type
prisons. The existence of cells for one or three persons has to be
abolished. The doors of the cells have to be kept open until the
necessary reforms have been made. It has to be guaranteed that the
prisoners and those awaiting trial can live together without any
preconditions being placed upon them. The denial of living rights and
isolation must end. Common living areas for the prisoners and those
awaiting trial has to be created.

a. The common facilities for sports, social and cultural activities,
which are said to have been created, have to be opened for usage
without being bound to any preconditions. This has to be recognized
as a right and the laws which are preventing this have to be
abolished. There has to be reforms to meet the requirements for
sports, social and cultural activities between the different blocks.

b. Legal publications (books, magazines and newspapers) have to be
allowed, taking into account that even the recent law doesn't
prohibit this. The examples of the confiscation of publications, the
arbitrariness of this, has to end. The obstacles placed before us
regarding our rights to letters and communications has to be removed.
The practice of limiting visits to 30 minutes when our visitors are
travelling hundreds of kilometers and having their visit almost
turned into a torture session has to end. These limits and this
arbitrary behaviour has to be stop. The right to an open visit must
not be put under conditions. It most be allowed and in our favour.
There must not be limits to the articles of daily use like food and
clothes which are brought to the prisons by our families. It has to
be made possible for our families to hand over refrigerators, ovens,
radios, typewriters and cassette recorders which are necessary
articles for daily use.

c. Regarding our legal problems, any arbitrary restrictions placed
upon us during our talks with our lawyers has to be removed. The
right of to have a "private consultation with our legal defence" has
to be respected. Lawyers most be allowed to talk to more than one
client at the same time and the arbitrariness of the humiliating and
degrading treatment of our legal defence must end.

d. The internal and external canteen requirements have to be
regulated and made suitable. The practice of overpricing has to stop.
The practice of "subjecting those who are imprisoned to charges",
which forces prisoners to pay for the electric, television and
medicine on their own, has to end.

e. The right of the prisoners to be represented has to be recognized
and practised.

f. The sentenced prisoners and those awaiting trial have to stay in
the same common areas.

g. Our demands and our rights have to be guaranteed by law by the
state. They will be absolutely and completely applied to both the F-
Type prisons and in all other prisons where political prisoners and
those awaiting trial are kept, and they will be applied without
making any changes. Any such changes or "improvements" which we judge
to be trying to break our thoughts have to be abandoned.

2. Article 16 of the Anti-Terror-Law has to be removed. The change to
article 16 has legitimized isolation and attacks. Isolation was put
into law and consolidated by tying its practice to the arbitrariness
within all the prisons. Furthermore the Minister of Justice has to
keep the promise he made before 19th December, to remove the double
standard of the "penalty execution" between political and social
prisoners by making the necessary reforms to article 17 and to
article 5 of the Anti-Terror-Law which is connected to it.

3. The tripartite protocol has to be cancelled. This protocol has
robbed us of our right to defence. It has abolished the
confidentiality regarding the trial documents between the lawyer and
their client. It has to be cancelled as a whole because it not only
attacks our right to defence but it is also the basis for the attacks
and massacres on the prisoners. It also contains articles which are
an attack upon our families and doctors.

4. The "Observatory Committees" have to be represented not by those
persons who represent those who apply isolation and repression; but
by those who represent institutions like the Bar Associations, the
Medical Association of Turkey (TAB), Human Right Association (IHD),
Union of the Chambers of Engineers and Architects of Turkey (TMMOB)
and the various association representing the families of prisoners
like TAYAD, ÜYAB and Tüm Yargi-Sen. The prisons have to be
opened for regular inspections by the independent Observatory
Committees and the necessary recommendations that are in their
reports have to be implemented immediately.

5. In relation to the abolition of anti-democratic institutions and
laws such as the DGM's (State Security Courts) and the Anti-Terror-
Law, which is not only demanded by us political prisoners but also by
all democratic forces, the political prisoners and democratic forces
and public opinion have to be given a guarantee regarding this.

6. The punishment of the prisoners who received severe mental and
physically damage during both the hunger strike-death fast resistance
in 1996 and today's death fast resistance and during the operations
carried out in the prisons, and those who for whom there's no
possibility of medical treatment in the prisons and who are very ill,
has to be cancelled with the compliance of the Prosecutor of the
Republic. This has to be done without there being an examination by
the forensic medics whose arbitrary and subjective diagnosis has made
receiving medical treatment impossible.

7. The massacres in the prisons, beginning from the operation of 19th
December 2000, and including those in Buca, Ümraniye, Diyarbakir,
Ulucanlar and Burdur, have to be investigated by commissions
consisting of independent institutions of independent democratic mass
organisations and professional chambers and also the Parliamentary
Human Rights Commission. There must be guarantees that there will not
be any restrictions regarding their reports and they have to be made
public and those who are identified as being responsible have to be
taken before the courts and punished. Our demands are fully just,
legitimate, democratic and humane. Against all of the lies,
demagogues and distortions our demands are not unacceptable. In order
to fulfill our demands, and to negotiate and to find a solution,
there must be unconditional negotiations with representatives who are
chosen by the prisoners by their own free will. 

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