F-type Prisons, Hunger Strikes and Deaths
The following article is a summary of the annual reports of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFTHuman Rights Foundation of Turkey ) for the years 1996 and 2000. The hunger strikes and death fasts against the F-type prisons caused 12 lives in 1996 and the actions in 2000 and the following years resulted in more than 100 deaths.
Annual Report 1996
1996 was a year in which the problems in prisons did not end. Operations turned into a massacre, as in Ümraniye and Diyarbakır E Type Prisons. In these massacres, 4 people were beaten to death in Ümraniye, and 10 people in Diyarbakır, whereas many others were wounded. In July, the hunger strikes went increased because of the indifference of Ministers of Justice Mehmet Ağar and Şevket Kazan to them. In this period 12 arrested or convicted prisoners died whereas many others developed permanent illnesses.
According to the figures provided by the Ministry of Justice, there were 56,082 prisoners in 562 prisons over Turkey as of 1 January 1997. Of these people, 24,922 were arrested prisoners and 231,090 were convicted ones. 50,405 of the prisoners were kept in “E” and “Special Type” prisons, 3,713 were in open prisons, 1,547 were in the juvenile sections of the closed prisons, and 4167 in penitentiaries for children. Of the 9,241 arrested or convicted political prisoners, 528 were right-wing and 8,713 left-wing, whereas 46,841 were ordinary prisoners. Of the political prisoners, 6,321 were arrested and 2,920 were convicted prisoners.
Death fast and hunger strike
Intolerant attitudes adopted by first Mehmet Ağar and then by Şevket Kazan led to widespread hunger strikes in the prisons. The hunger strike which started in Diyarbakır E Type Prison in April, spread to all over Turkey after 20 May. The strike turned into death fast on 3 July. According to the official data, 2174 prisoners took part in hunger strikes, and 355 prisoners in death fast actions in 43 prisons in 38 provinces. As a result of the hunger strikes, 12 people died, and 170 people became seriously ill. The names those died in hunger strike are as follows:
- Aygün Uğur (25) 21 July 1996 İstanbul Ümraniye Prison
- Altan Berdan Kerimgiller 23 July 1996 Bayrampaşa Prison
- İlginç Özkeskin (35) 24 July 1996 Bayrampaşa Prison
- Hüseyin Demircioğlu (36) 25 July 1996 Ankara Central Prison
- Ali Ayata (32) 25 July 1996 Bursa Special Type Prison
- Müjdat Yanat (32) 25 July 1996 Aydın E Type Prison
- Tahsin Yılmaz (35) 26 July 1996 Bayrampaşa Prison
- Ayşe İdil Erkmen (26) 26 July 1996 Çanakkale E Type Prison
- Ulaş Hicabi Küçük (24) 27 July 1996 Bursa Special Type Prison
- Yemliha Kaya (28) 27 July 1996 Bayrampaşa Prison
- Osman Akgün (32) 27 July 1996 Ümraniye Prison
- Hayati Can (25) 28 July 1996 Bursa Special Type Prison
The hunger strikes started at Diyarbakır E Type Prison in April on the demands of “improvement in living conditions.” While the hunger strike in Diyarbakır E Type Prison was under way, a circular (known as “6 May Circular”) came on the agenda. The circular foresaw transfer of prisoners, who are prosecuted at İstanbul SSCState Security Court , to Eskişehir Special Type Prison, which was defunct since 1991, when Seyfi Oktay served as Minister of Justice. The circular led to restlessness in prisons, and the hunger strikes spread over Turkey starting from May.
With the circular by the Ministry of Justice on 6 April 1996, Eskişehir Special Type Prison started to be used for the prisoners who were put on trial at İstanbul SSC. It was reported that although the circular specified that 150 prisoners would be sent from İstanbul to Eskişehir Special Type Prison, there were preparations for the accommodation of 1000 prisoners in the prison. With the circular, a quota of 50 prisoners was allocated to Kırklareli, Sakarya, Kastamonu, İnebolu and Sinop prisons each in addition to Eskişehir Special Type Prison. In the circular, it was stated that the people who were arrested in Balıkesir, Yalova, Bilecik, Çanakkale, Edirne, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Tekirdağ, and Gebze, which were within the domain of İstanbul SSC, were also put in the prisons in the cities where their trials were heard, instead of those in İstanbul.
Implementation of the circular started on 8 May. Nine people (2 of whom were women) who were arrested by İstanbul SSC on 7 May were not admitted to Bayrampaşa Prison in accordance with the circular. Subsequently male prisoners were taken to Metris Prison, and the female prisoners were taken to Üsküdar E Type Prison. However, these prisoners were taken from their current prisons to Eskişehir E Type Prison on 8 May.
“The Prisons Central Coordination,” consisted of the prisoners from MLKPMarxist-Leninist Communist Party , TKP (ML), TİKB, TKP/MLCommunist Party of Turley/Marxist-Leninist , Ekim, TKEPCommunist Workers' Party of Turkey -Leninist, Direniş Hareketi and DHKP-C, made a statement about hunger strikes. The statement demanded that the circulars for coffins (as they called the cells in Eskişehir Prison) should be annulled, the attacks against the families of the prisoners should be stopped, and the obstructions against the right of defence and treatment of the prisoners; it was also declared that “the Hunger Strike for An Definite Period” was initiated starting from 20 May.
An operation was launched against the prisoners on hunger strike at Diyarbakır E Type Prison on 29 May. Some of the inmates got severely wounded in the attack, and were hospitalized. Names of some of these prisoners are as follows: Ulaş Aslan, Toksoy Aktı, Musa Altun, Fesih Erkaplan, Mehmet Dursun, Ahmet Tüneli, Yılmaz Yürek, Ali Koç, Şükrü Akbaş, Yaşar Kırmızı, Mehmet Aylak, Mehmet Güngörmüş, İbrahim Karayel, Tacettin Turan, Hakkı Aygün, Halil Dağ, Nizamettin Karaağar, Osman Ünler and Gani Yalçın. Of the prisoners who were transferred to Gaziantep subsequent to the operation, Fesih Erkaplan and Mehmet Dursun set themselves on fire in protest of the pressure.
In the written statement made by arrested inmates in prison, the attack was described as follows: “On 29 May, after 10 a.m., the wards were searched. The wards numbered 29 and 33, where our friends on indefinite-non alternate hunger strike stayed, were intentionally searched last. Our 16 friends who constituted the first team to go on a hunger strike on 25 April, were unable to move. The prison directors and officers stated that they were going to take them to the hospital. Our friends refused this, saying that first the problems that had caused the hunger strike had to be solved. Upon this came the command to attack. The guardians, the soldiers in charge of outer security and the commando unit brought from outside especially for this move, attacked the prisoners with iron sticks and clubs.” Nineteen prisoners, who were wounded in the attack, were transferred to Gaziantep Special Type Prison on 1 June.
The 19 prisoners, who continued to strike at Antep Prison, ended the hunger strike on 14 June, on the 51st day upon calls by HADEP, Diyarbakır Bar Association and 28 mass organizations.
Another attack was experienced in Nevşehir Prison on 20 June. As a result of the attack against the ward C/7 including the PKKKurdish Workers' Party prisoners who were on hunger strike for 34 days, İlhami Yılmaz was wounded. İlhami Yılmaz was taken to hospital, but he refused treatment; there were attempts at forcibly giving her serum. The prisoners who held demonstrations for returning of their inmate back broke the window glasses. When 400 ordinary prisoners supported the political prisoners, İlhami Yılmaz was taken back to the ward.
The hunger strike at Diyarbakır E Type Prison ended with consensus on 8 July, but continued in other prisons. The demands of prisoners accepted as a result of the negotiations are as follows: “The practice of forcing people to become confessors shall be left aside,” “Prisoners are not going to be beaten on the road to and back from the court,” “During transfers to other prisons and on the road to hospital, prisoners shall not be chained on the feet.,” “A doctor shall always be present inside the prison,” “Packages which do not constitute a legal drawback shall be let inside the prisons,” “Unbarred books and publications shall be let inside,” “Prisoner relatives shall not be kept under pressure,” “Prisoners’ possessions shall not be seized, their food shall not be muddled up with others”.
Minister Kazan, in the press conference on 9 July, declared that the “May circulars” released by former Minister Ağar were annulled. Kazan informed the public about annulment of the aforesaid circulars and the new circular issued. The new circular, while stopping the transfer of political convicts and arrested ones to other prisons, also foresees the ones transferred till now to be sent to the prison closest to the court where they had been prosecuted. Minister Kazan also stated that they were not thinking about closing the Eskişehir Special Type Prison down.
Despite the fact that Minister Kazan annulled the circulars the hunger strike and death fast in prisons continued.
Defending that the new circular by Şevket Kazan would not provide “humane living conditions” in the prisons, the prisoners converted their hunger strike into a death fast. The declaration read in parts was
|To Our Peoples
The circulars for coffins should be annulled. The attempts at making everybody confessors and exiles should be stopped; all coffins, in particular in Eskişehir, should be closed down. The attacks against the relatives of the prisoners should be stopped. The obstructions before our right of defense and treatment of the prisoners should be eliminated. The disappearances, executions, massacres, and tortures should be put an end to. The terrorism against all workers including in particular the Kurdish people should be stopped. The violence in Erzurum and Diyarbakır prisons should be stopped.
With our determined belief in our victory, we, as the prisoners form DHKP-C, MLKP, TKP(ML), TKEP-Leninist, TKP/ML, TDP, Direniş Hareketi cause, have converted our general resistance represented by our hunger strike into death fast starting from 3 July 1996, on the 45th day, in Bayrampaşa, Ümraniye and Sakarya prisons, form 5 July 1996 in Buca, Aydın, Bursa, Çanakkale, Eskişehir, and Gebze prisons, and from 7 July 1996 in Ankara Central Closed, Yozgat, Çankırı, Bartın, Konya, İskenderun, and Malatya prisons. (*)
(*) DHKP-C: Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Army-Front, MLKP: Marxist Leninist Communist Party, TKP (ML): Communist Party of Turkey (Marxist-Leninist), TKEP-Leninist: Communist Labor Party of Tur-key-Leninist, TKP/ML: Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist, TDP: Revolution Party of Turkey.
The number of the prisoners on death fast climbed up to 217, with the participation of a second group in mid-July. On 16 July, ÇHD Chairman Şenal Sarıhan, İHD Chairman Akın Birdal and a group of lawyers met with Justice Minister Şevket Kazan. In the statement she made, Sarıhan cited that Kazan had accepted that the prisoners had to be transferred from Eskişehir to İstanbul but he had said that he needed time to solve the problems. However, Şevket Kazan disclosed on 19 July that “Eskişehir Prison would not be closed.”
Starting from 23 July, the 66th day of the death fast, 52 arrested and convicted prisoners from various prisoners participated in the death strike. Thus the number of the prisoners on death fast reached over 260. The declaration made by the prisoners on death fast reads as follows: 66th day in Death fast
Hunger strikes ended
The death fast ended on the 69th day, when a consensus was maintained as a result of the meetings held by intellectuals and some MPs with the prisoners and the authorities. İstanbul Public Chief Prosecutor Ferzan Çitici, RP İstanbul MP Mukadder Başeğmez, CHPRepublican People's Party İstanbul MP Ercan Karakaş, artist Zülfü Livaneli, writer Yaşar Kemal, İHD İstanbul Branch Chairman Ercan Kanar, ÇHD İstanbul Branch Chairman Mustafa Üçdere, lawyers Eşber Yağmurdereli, Ahmet Düzgün Yüksel and Mihriban Kırdök and actor Halil Ergün met with the prisoners.
As a result of the meeting, a protocol was signed, which foresaw the “transfer of the prisoners in Eskişehir to Gebze and Ümraniye Prisons” and “establishment of a committee of Yaşar Kemal, Zülfü Livaneli and Eşber Yağmurdereli to follow the practicing of rights.” Thereby, the demands by the prisoners which foresaw the “closing of the Eskişehir Special Type Prison for political prisoners,” “ending of violence experienced during the transfers to hospitals and courts,” ending of the violence and detentions directed against the families,” “allowance of publications (which are not banned) inside the prisons,” “unimpeded social relationships among the prisoners,” “a delegation’s observation of whether the legal rights are being experienced or not” and “prisoner representatives’ maintenance of the communication between the prison administration and the prisoners,” were acknowledged. The protocol was signed by Yaşar Ke-mal, Zülfü Livaneli, Eşber Yağmurdereli, Ercan Kanar, Mustafa Üçdere and Ahmet Düzgün Yüksel and prisoners Mehmet Yeşilçalı, Şadi Özbolat and Mehmet Akif Han. While the meeting went on, Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and Şevket Kazan were continuously informed by the phone. Upon demand by the prisoners, Kazan appeared live on TV at night and guaranteed the Eskişehir Special Type Prison would be emptied.
After the agreement was maintained, 175 arrested and convicted prisoners were transferred to 15 hospitals in 11 provinces. The other prisoners received medical treatment in the prisons. Of the hospitalized prisoners, 9 were discharged on 28 July. It was reported that the condition of 18 prisoners (1 in Ankara and Konya, 2 in Bartın, Bursa, İzmir and Kocaeli, 3 in Çanakkale, and 5 in İstanbul) was serious, that 11 of these prisoners began to recover due to the medical treatment, but 7 were kept at the intensive care unit. Out of the 31 prisoners who were transferred to Buca Prison, the heart of Gülten Işık stopped beating during the transfer, but she survived after the medical intervention.
Annual Report 2000
The legal basis for the cell-type (F-type) prisons was laid in the Law 3713 to Fight Terrorism, passed in 1991. Article 16 of this law provided: “The sentences of those convicted under the provisions of this Law will be executed in special penal institutions built on a system of rooms for one or three people. In these institutions, open visits shall not be permitted.Contact and communication between convicted prisoners will be prevented.”
The first step taken for the implementation of the F-type prisons in 2000 was The Protocol between the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Health. On 17 January the protocol that the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Health had signed on 6 January entered into force. In a joint statement the İstanbul branches of the ÇHD, HRAHuman Rights Association and TOHAV pointed at the 80 articles and emphasized that the protocol was against the contemporary execution of law and human rights, it was said that the authorization of searching the clothes and bags of the lawyers twice and controlling the documents found on the lawyers, were obvious assaults against the right to defence. In the press statement it was said that ÇHD, İHD and TOHAV member lawyers would not enter the prisons until the protocol was annulled.
In February lawyers of the ÇHD filed a case against the protocol with the Supreme Administrative Court. The Union of Turkish Bars (TBB) also filed a case calling the double body search on lawyers an attack against the profession and the right of defense. The objection of the Turkish Medical Association particularly pointed at Article 66 and 74.
The full title of is “The Protocol on the Effective Operation of Administration, External Protection and Health Care Services in Penal Institutions and Detention Centers”. Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Türk claimed, “with the new prisons the dominance of terror and mafia-like organizations will stop. Therefore, certain circles are running a campaign against it.”
Campaigns against the F-type prisons were run by human rights defenders as well as other NGOs. In particular the relatives of prisoners were very much active in explaining that the new prisons would mean new and increased pressure. Against these campaigns the Ministry of Justice started a campaign of “information on F-type prisons” in the second half of the year using columnists and other means to speed up the introduction of the cell-type prisons.
On 28 July representatives of the HRA, TİYAD, the HRFT and Mazlum Der inspected Sincan F-type Prison with the permission of the Justice Minister. After the visit they issued a joined report stating inter alias:
|“The place of the prison is difficult to reach and already this creates the impression that the main purpose of the new prisons is isolation. With the intended number of 368 prisoners the waiting room for lawyers and visitors can only accommodate 40 to 50 people. There will be x-rays at the entrance of the visitors’ room. It is hard to understand, why two different spaces have been allocated in this room for the search of men and search of women. This can only mean a second body search.
Before the actual cells are reached there are three halls without natural light in various sizes marked as prayers’ room, depot, waste exit etc. There was no satisfactory explanation on the intention to use these halls that are far away from the places, where the prisoners are held. In the administration part of the building rooms for a social service expert and psychologist could be seen. To separate them from the health personnel and put them next to the administration shows the real purpose for an employment of people from this profession.
The prisoners cannot reach the place of the canteen in the middle of the prison. The rooms designed for 3 prisoners are isolated against sound and heat. This increases the danger of isolation. The cells for single person have only one door to the outdoor area. It was officially acknowledged that the use of the outdoor space is left to the discretion of the prison administration.
The so-called football ground is completely outside the prison and even prisoners in ordinary prisons would not be taken there...”
The Union of Turkish Bars and the Turkish Medical Association also pointed at the danger of social isolation in the high-security prisons. The tabloid press, however, meant to have discovered that the new system was supported by international standards. Such an article appeared in Hürriyet of 14 December under the title of “European Support for F-type”. It was based on a report by the CPT on its visit to Turkey in July 2000. The report was made public in November 2001.
The Start of the Death Fast Actions
The convicts and prisoners in Bayrampaşa, Bartın, Çankırı, Çanakkale, Aydın, Bursa, Uşak, Malatya, Niğde, Buca, Ankara Central Closed, Konya-Ermenek, Nevşehir, Gebze and Ceyhan prosecuted in trials of DHKP-C and TİKKO, disclosed that they would stage a hunger strike in protest to the cell type prisons starting from 26 October. The prisoners and convicts in Çankırı and Ümraniye Prisons already started on 20 October. Among the demands of the prisoners were the lifting of the joint protocol by the Ministers of Justice, Health and the Interior and the supervision of prison by NGOs.
By 19 November the number of hunger strikers had reached 816 in 18 prisons. On that day the prisoners announced that they would turn their action into a fasten to death (death fast).
In Aydın E-type Prison 36 prisoners protested on 18 November by tearing down the windows. The action was stopped the next day, when an agreement with the prison administration was reached.
The Ministry of Justice reported on 24 November that 57 prisoners were on a death fast action and 805 prisoners were staging a hunger strike. The statement mentioned that the prisoners demanded the closure of cell type prisons, annulment of the Anti-Terror Law (numbered 3713) and all convictions because of this law, the cancellation of the protocol signed by the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Health, and the closure of the State Security Courts.” The statement continued: “The place, food, airing and lighting system of the cell type prisons are above the fixed standards of the United Nations and the Committee of Ministers in the European Council. They are also convenient in relation to education, health, sport, psycho-social aid service as well as the work conditions. The high security cell type prisons will not be implemented in the near future due to some deficiencies and missing staff. It should be known that the hunger strikes and death fasts will not stop the construction of the high security prisons that are also supported by the public. It is clear that the demands do not only cover the prisons. According to the information received by our Ministry some prisoners and convicts who are staging the hunger strike and the death fast have been forced to do so because of organizational pressures. They were forced to sign petitions which read that they participated in the act on their own initiatives.”
On 5 December, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit stated that the prisoners were engaging in suicide acts, and thus physicians should intervene and treat them. Ecevit said that the F type prisons were not cell type and that the Government was insistent to put the model into practice. Ecevit also reacted against artists and intellectuals who attempted to end the death fasts. He said: “it is something impossible to understand the decision of some men of literature and some writers to participate in death fasts. And some doctors say that they could not treat a person on death fast without taking his/her consent. However, when a person attempts suicide by jumping from a roof, everybody, doctor or not, tries to save him/her. Death fast is a kind of suicide.”
On 9 December Justice Minister Türk declared that the implementation of cell type prisons had been postponed. Türk pointed out that the prisons would be reviewed in every aspect and thus achieve a public agreement. This review would be carried out by not only the Ministry but also by Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Union of Bar Associations of Turkey (TBB) and the Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).
Türk stated that they would change Article 16, which provides for heavy prison conditions and isolation. The Minister did not reply to the demands of the strikers to annul the protocol signed by the three Ministries, the closing down of State Security Courts and prosecution of those who are responsible for prison attacks and of security staff who inflict torture.
A delegation consisting of Yaşar Kemal, Zülfü Livaneli, Orhan Pamuk, Oral Çalişlar and Can Dündar met with prisoners and convicts in Bayrampaşa Prison on 9 December to end the death fast while Hikmet Sami Türk was making his statements. Following the second meeting on 10 December with the delegations the strikers reported that they found Türk’s statements unsatisfactory and that they decided to continue their death fast. Can Dündar, a delegate stated outside the prison: “The prisoners decided to continue their action, because they do not find the government convincing. They say, ‘In the isolation cells we will anyway die sooner or later. We shall let the public know this by dying.’”
On 14 December, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit and Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk made statements asserting “they had done their bests as a government and could not be held responsible for the deaths.” In the statement he made after his weekly meeting with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Ecevit said: “The parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations, writers and artists have spent considerable efforts on this issue. All kinds of doubts on the F Type prisons have been removed. Despite this fact, the people who put the death fast on stage go on insisting on conditions, which would not be admitted by any state. Under these conditions, if death incidents take place, people who pushed the protesters to death will be responsible.”
On the same day İstanbul State Security Court banned publication or broadcast of news on the death fast and F-type prisons “that would be regarded as the statements and propaganda of illegal organizations.” The decision that was taken upon the request of İstanbul SSC Prosecution Office asserted that the news about the death fast and the F-type prisons “extensively included actions that had been planned and implemented by illegal terrorist organizations which aimed at destruction the public authority and to show that the prisons were not controlled by officials but by them.
The 19 December Operation
While efforts for a solution to the death fast continued the so-called “Return to Life” operation started at 4.30am on 19 December. This operation did not stop the death fast action (did not return prisoners to life) and instead caused the death of 32 persons, including two soldiers.
Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk made a statement in the morning, when the operation had started: “As you know, hunger strikes and death fasts have been maintained in some of our prisons with the enforcement of specific organizations. By yesterday, the number of death fast protesters reached 284, the number of people on hunger strike reached 1,139. Yesterday (18 December) was the 60th day of some actions. Up to the last minute, initiatives were taken in order to end the hunger strike. But, unfortunately, common sense could not win and these strikes could not be ended on their own accord. The State cannot turn a blind eye to those who incite people to death. For this reason an intervention had become inevitable in 20 prisons. The intervention aims to save people’s life. The hunger strike has ended in 4 prisoners by now. These are Ankara, Kırşehir, Niğde and Elbistan Prisons. The operation is about to be concluded in Buca, Aydın and Uşak Prisons. The operation has been carried out with a full success up to now. There have not been any losses, I hope this is so. The operation has been initiated after all kinds of precautions had been taken, and everybody should help the state now.”
Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit made a statement at noon, and referred to the operation in prisons as “an initiative to rescue and protect the terrorists from their own terrorism”. Ecevit said: “We have been paying efforts for weeks in order not to resort to such an armed intervention. All of our security forces are performing their duties in harmony and patience. They do whatever they can in order to maintain that lives are saved. For this reason, it may take some time in certain prisons, especially in Bayrampaşa and Ümraniye, since the problem is dealt with peacefully as much as it can be, without resorting to violence. The problem has been solved in many prisons. The patients have started to accept medical treatment.
Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk said in the evening that operations in 18 of the 20 prisons had been concluded and 15 prisoners had died in the operations. He said that 12 prisoners had died in Bayrampaşa Prison, 1 prisoner in Ümraniye Prison, and 2 prisoners in Bursa, and 36 prisoners had been wounded in Bayrampaşa. One non-commissioned officer and one gendarmerie soldier died in Ümraniye and Çanakkale prisons. Türk disclosed at 7.30pm that 141 prisoners on death fast and 434 prisoners on hunger strike had been hospitalized.
In the immediate aftermath of the intervention transfers to the F Typed Prisons started. Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk made a statement at noon and disclosed that a total of 490 prisoners and convicts had been transferred to the Kocaeli, Sincan and Edirne F-Type Prisons, despite Türk’s earlier promise of postponing the opening of these prisons until necessary arrangements including the architectural project were made in accordance with the compromise with the NGOs.
The first statement concerning the transfers was made by Minister of Interior Sadettin Tantan, instead of Minister Türk: “24 inmates in Bartın Special Type Prisons are being transferred to Sincan,” said Minister of Interior Sadettin Tantan in the morning of 19 December. Tantan gave a statement to the newspaper Milliyet, asserting that “It has been understood from the medical examination of the prisoners who have been taken from prisons to hospitals that most of them have not been staging death fasts.”
Tantan also asserted that the prisoners had burnt themselves “in line with the instruction received by the organization’s leaders,” and went on saying, “The special teams of gendarme forces who have participated in the operation have been given practical training for one year on models of the prisons they would operate. They have been trained for one year about how they would enter in the prison and behave during the operation.”
In the official statement made on 21 December it was reported that 524 prisoners and convicts were transferred to F-type prisons in Edirne, Kocaeli and Sincan. It was pointed out that around 344 prisoners and convicts would be accepted to Sincan F-type Prison.
While official statements alleged that “some prisoners were set on fire by executives of the organizations” prisoners, who were transferred to Bakırköy Women and Juvenile Prison in the aftermath of the operation said that soldiers and special team members set the prisoners on fire. Suna Sökmen told her mother within 15 minutes visit time: “We were sleeping. We heard some noise. A friend from the PKK (Ali Ekber Düzova) hit the ward doors and shouted, ‘An operation has started’. Meanwhile, soldiers opened fire on him. He was shot at his feet. They entered the women’s ward from the roof. The special team members and soldiers ordered, ‘Surrender, we will take you out.’ We said that we would not surrender. They attacked us. Our friends took the death fasting ones to the yard. They fired some liquid at our friends, and then set them on fire. We saw them burning alive. Six friends burnt that way.”
Fatma Acunbay Öztutan, who was transferred to Bakırköy Women and Juvenile Prison although burnt, noted that the prisoners had not set themselves on fire and said, “They pelted us with pepper gas, gas and smoke grenades. They set everywhere on fire. They burnt us. They prevented us from putting out the fire.” Birsen Kars, Gülizar Kesici, Hacer Arıkan and Ebru Dinçer who were taken to the Haseki Hospital at the second day of the operation, also said the doctors that they had burnt due to a liquid substance fired at them by the security officials.
Filiz Gencer said, “...We attempted to protect ourselves with wet towels. At one moment they threw a different grenade... Respiration stops, then contraction. It gives a pain such as all your organs are blasting. This bomb led us to lose consciousness. Later we stood up. As they knew we were by the window, if I’m not mistaken, 7 or 8 holes were opened. On the other hand, they were continuously speaking to beat us and swearing at us... The shower of bombs started again... I fell down. When I turned my head to the other side, I saw a friend shouting while pulling out her hair... They started to throw gas grenades with yellow smoke and fire grenades inside. Everywhere was smoke, and most of us had lost consciousness... Later, screams came out from the upper side, ‘They are burning, they are burning.’ Birsen Kars and Gülizar Kesici were taken downstairs, as their heads were burnt. We took them to the fountain and put them in water... The upper floor was completely on fire, and it was impossible to reach the upper side of the stairs. Many of our friends suffered burnings on various parts of their bodies, especially on their heads. Gülser had fallen in front of the door, but it was impossible to drag her out. She was trapped and fainted. She was at the front. I didn’t see the other friends who were burnt...’’
Ayla Özcan (among the first participants of the death fast): “...When they started firing, we did not have day clothes, and we threw ourselves on the ground. We took all towels we could find and made them wet. Later they opened holes in the ceiling and dropped gas grenades through them. We were almost suffocating, and could not breathe. We went to the nearby windows to breathe easily. Some of our friends lost consciousness because of the gas inside. The effects of nerve gas continued until 12am. Between 700 and 1000 grenades were thrown on us. Some grenades started to burn. The ward started to burn. The fire was getting all around. We were surrounded by fire on two sides. Most of us had been burnt by their hands and on their backs...
They started to get in at about 2pm. Our resistance was continuing for 7 hours. While the wounded friends were trying to get out of the ward, fire was opened on them with rifles from the roof...”
Meanwhile İstanbul Forensic Institute issued temporary autopsy reports on 21 December on 12 corpses from Bayrampaşa and one corpse from Ümraniye Prison. According to the reports 5 prisoners were killed by firearms; 7 prisoners burnt to death and one person lost his life because of poisoning by gas.
The list of people killed during the 19 December Operation
Bayrampaşa: Cengiz Çalıkoparan, Ali Ateş, Mustafa Yılmaz, Murat Ördekçi, Nilüfer Alcan, Fırat Tavuk, Aşur Korkmaz, Şefinur Tezgel, Yazgülü Güder Öztürk, Gülser Tuzcu, Seyhan Doğan, Özlem Ercan.
Ümraniye: Ahmet İbili, Ercan Polat, Umut Gedik, Alp Ata Akçagöz, Rıza Poyraz, Haydar Akbaba, Muharrem Buldukoğlu. (It was alleged that Akbaba and Buldukoğlu were killed because they were believed to be agents)
Çanakkale: Fidan Kalşen, Fahri Sarı, Sultan Sarı, İlker Babacan.
Bursa: Murat Özdemir.
Çankırı: İrfan Ortakçı, Hasan Güngörmez, Ali İhsan Özkan.
Uşak: Berrin Bıçkılar, Yasemin Cancı.
Ceyhan: Halil Önder.
In Ümraniye the soldier Nurettin Kurt and in Çanakkale the soldiers Mustafa Mutlu were killed.
On 31 December Hüseyin Akgül, chairman of the Human Rights Commission in the GNATGrand National Assembly of Turkey and the member Mehmet Bekaroğlu inspected Sincan F-type Prison. They made a statement after the visit:
|“There are no medical reports for injured prisoners. Only those, who were taken to hospital, got reports. The prisoners were transferred to this prison under beatings and pushing. The physician only had a brief look at them and accepted them to the prison. There is no report, although some of the prisoners have fractures and some have their legs in plaster. It seems that there is an effort in letting the wounds heal and an attempt to have prison inspection from Europe delayed. We are certain that all this could have been prevented, if we had had closer contacts via the Ministry.”
Bekaroğlu also stated that there was no prisoner, who had not been beaten during transport. Some had serious burn marks, but nobody accepted medication that had to be taken in orally. He feared that terrible results could be observed soon.
According to the Justice Ministry the situation of hunger strikers and death fast actions was at the end of 2000:
395 prisoners continued the death fast action in 41 prison and 1,118 prisoners were on hunger strike. The figures on F-type prisons were: 103 death fasters and 165 hunger strikers in Sincan, 99 death fasters and 192 hunger strikers in Edirne and 28 death fasters and 159 hunger strikers in Kocaeli F-type Prison.
A total of 91 prisoners were reported to be in a critical situation. Their names were:
Vicdan Şahin, Semra Askeri, Gönül Aslan, Zehra Kurtay, Ergül Acer, Ayşe Baştimur, Ayşe Eren, Nazan Yılmaz, Kemal Altıngül, Tuncay Berber, Muharrem Güzel, Daimi Ateş, Berna Ünsal, Esma Aslanboğan, Murat Özten, Hakkı Alphan, Mahmut Mete, Ali Ekber Doğan, Havva Doğan, Mustafa Erkan Çetin, Ali Koç, Sevgi Erdoğan, Ümit Kanlı, Barış Yıldırım, Suna Ökmen, Ayla Özcan, Mesut Avcı, Abdullah Bozdağ, Serhat Karadumanlı, Celal Alpay, Hatice Yürekli, Recep Cingitaş, Kadir Kaya, İsmet Ünver, Mehmet Kan, Murat Kırsay, Orhan Gül, Hıdır Açıkel, Haydar Demir, Fatma Hülya Tümgan, Murat Targay, Hüseyin Aslan, Ökkeş Karaoğlu, Hamit Süren, Ali Çolak, Cengiz Soydaş, Tayyar Bektaş, Özgür Saltık, Resul Ayaz, Nebahat Polat, Yadigar Bayar, Ali Rıza Dermanlı, Çetin Can, Düzgün Zengin, Ahmet Yılmaz, Yıldız Gemicioğlu, Ümüş Şahingöz, Mehmet Zincir, Gülay Kavak, Muharrem Genç, Veli Güneş, Hasan Pınar, Osman Osmanağaoğlu, Alişan Şanlı, Ali Rıza Demir, Durmuş Kurt, Mehmet Kerem, Cem Yıldız, Özgür Ayrılmaz, Yaşar Yağan, Servet Paksoy, Cihan Şeker, Temel Çağırtekin, Özgür Soner, Muharrem Kurşun, Erdal Arıkan, Mesut Örs, Orhan Budak, Erdal Çetinkaya, Ali Köçmen, Adil Kaplan, Özgür Koçak, Yusuf Karaca, Sinan Eren, Suat Karabulut, Burhan Gardaş, Fatma Ersoy, Erkan Kaya, Ali Karataş and Hasan Hüseyin Mert.
On Tayyar Sürül, Bülent Özdemir, Serdar Karaçelik and Çetin Dönmez it was said that they did not receive medical treatment, although they were injured by bullets.