Hunger strike for Turkish political prisoners

Issue 

A hunger strike will be held on October 20-21 in the Parramatta Activist Centre in solidarity with the "death fast resistance" that has been carried out by Turkish political prisoners since October 20, 2000.

The Turkish "death fast resistance" is in protest at the confinement of political prisoners in maximum security F-type isolation prisons, which are aimed at intimidating political dissidents and deterring others from struggling for their rights.

Over the past six years, 122 political prisoners have fasted to death and 600 others have been left crippled from force-feeding by prison guards. Lawyers Behic Asci and Gulcan Goruroglu are participating in the death fast outside the F-type prisons in Istanbul and Adana, respectively, while Sevgi Saymaz is carrying out a death fast in Usak Prison. These three current resisters are nearing the 200th day of their fasts.

When he began his death fast in April, Asci said: "I am starting a hunger strike for the abolishment of isolation in prisons. I am on a hunger strike for the right to life in a country where law and justice are being destroyed."

Asci told Green Left Weekly in August that some of the most horrendous crimes against political prisoners were committed during the introduction of the F-type prisons in 2000. Attempts by prisoners to resist their transfer to the new jails were met with extreme violence and 28 prisoners were murdered by the prison authorities. The perpetrators remain unpunished to this day.

Asci told GLW that the Turkish legal system provides no protection for political prisoners held in isolation. In one instance, when a guard demanded one of Asci's clients stand up for a prisoner count, she responded that given she was in an isolation cell there was no need for her to stand to be counted. Enraged at this small show of defiance, the guard attacked, crushing her skull against the cell wall. When Asci appealed to the court to protest his client's mistreatment, his suit was rejected as part of a "terrorist campaign" against F-type isolation prisons.

Prisoners in the F-type isolation prisons typically suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. The authorities routinely deny prisoners medical assistance and access to legal representation, and visits from family members are arbitrarily refused.

Those campaigning against these horrendous conditions argue that the European Union is complicit in them. While the EU has called on Turkey to reform its prison system, it has stood by as prisoners died slowly in the isolation cells.

The Parramatta solidarity action is being organised by the Families of Political Prisoners in Turkey Solidarity Association. Supporters are encouraged to visit the hunger fasters (address on page 2) to show solidarity. For more information, email .