Defend International (DI) is alarmed by reports that hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey have started a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, unfair trial practices and racial discrimination while the Turkish authorities continue to deny the prisoners access to qualified medical care. DI urges the authorities to provide the prisoners access to qualified medical care, and anyone in serious condition must be referred instantly to a hospital where the necessary treatment should begin promptly.
Also on this page, read parts of the speech delivered by Mr. William Nygaard, from the Norwegian PEN, following his recent visit to Silivri Prison in Turkey. You can also be directed to Norway’s largest newspaper, Aften Posten, to read an article written by Mr. Nygaard and Mr. Eugene Schoulgin from the PEN International, entitled: The Lawless Turkey: Violations of Common Legal Practice and the Crackdown on Freedom of Speech Continues Reaching New Heights in Turkey.
25 October 2012
DI Calls Upon Turkish Authorities To Engage in Dialogue with Prisoners on Hunger Strike
(Oslo) – Defend International urges Turkey to put an end to all forms of harassment, torture, and inhumane treatment against the prisoners on hunger strike, and to provide them access to qualified medical care.
Defend International is alarmed by reports that hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners have started an open hunger strike, and the Turkish authorities continue to ignore the rights of prisoners who are protesting against trail conditions, unfair practices and violations of human rights, including racial discrimination in trails. On September 12, 2012 the hunger strike was initiated in 7 prisons with 63 prisoners, of which 13 were women. Now, the hunger strike has grown to more than 770 prisoners detained in dozens of prisons. Among the prisoners are politicians, journalists, mayors, members of the parliament and city councils, as well as civil society activists. After having submitted numerous petitions to the authorities, they have resorted to a hunger strike in an attempt to get the attention of the government. Their demands include the right to education and legal defense in mother tongue, and recognition of the Kurds’ democratic rights.
DI is deeply concerned that many prisoners on hunger strike have been punished with solitary confinement, and that the guards are using excessive force and punitive measures, such as denying prisoners’ access to drinking water, sugar, and vitamins, aiming to force the prisoners to break their hunger strike.
Defend International is calling for urgent intervention by the Turkish authorities in order to immediately put an end to all forms of harassment, torture, and inhumane treatment against the prisoners on hunger strike. Co-founder of Defend International, Dr. Widad said today: “Unfortunately, to date, Turkish officials have not taken any steps to thoroughly and impartially investigate these allegations, follow where evidence leads, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. They have also failed to engage in peaceful negotiations with the prisoners. We urge the authorities to provide, without delay, the prisoners access to qualified medical care, and anyone in serious condition must be referred instantly to a qualified health professional or a hospital where the necessary treatment should begin promptly.”
DI calls upon the Turkish authorities to ensure that conditions of detention conform to international standards for the treatment of prisoners, to engage in dialogue with the prisoners, and to pay heed to their requests.
It bears mentioning that the Kurds in Turkey have suffered from systematic repression characterized by grave violations of their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in addition to death in custody under torture, disappearances, widespread arbitrary arrests, torture and other cruel, inhuman treatment or punishment.
Result of DI Action:
- On November 18, 2012 the prisoners ended their 68-day hunger strike.
- The Turkish government has agreed to present a bill to the parliament to allow the Kurds to use their own language in court.
- DI expresses its sincere appreciation to DI member organizations, DI Defenders, subscribers, and friends for their solidarity and for supporting this action and making the voice of prisoners heard.
For our Norwegian members: Read a recent article on Turkey and its legal system, written by Mr. William Nygaard form the Norwegian PEN and Mr. Eugene Schoulgin from the PEN International, published in Aften Posten on 6 November 2012, entitled: The Lawless Turkey: Violations of Common Legal Practice and the Crackdown on Freedom of Speech Continues Reaching New Heights in Turkey.
To visit the Norwegian PEN for a quick preview of the article or to read a speech delivered by Mr. William Nygaard following his visit to Silivri Prison on 3 November 2012, click here.
Mr. Nygaard states in his speech: “On my first prison visit, to Visilri, here in March I became a personal witness to the way oppression works. As you know, but the rest of the world had better know, we see prisoners who have spent years in jail before their cases were brought to trial. We were sitting in on one of these mass trials which takes place frequently. During the break we managed to talk to some of the accused, shouting at each other from a distance. This way of communication is forbidden since then, I have heard. They came from different professions: Two publishers, two journalists and writers, one owner of a TV-station, one general, one dean at a university, one computer expert etc. They had been robbed of years of their lives…..
What kind of impression will Turkey create in the international community, when these shortcomings are known, and when we hear about clampdowns on freedom of expression – in literature, journalism, music, art and photography? What happens when we read about the double standards practised in the handling of the Kurd question? Is Turkey, even with a new constitution, going to remain a hybrid rather than a true democracy – seemingly lacking the will to solve their most pressing challenges?”
Art work by DI member Mr. Kane Alan