International delegation finds over 10,000 political prisoners in Turkey

13/06/2001
Press release

A delegation of the FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) composed of Prof. Jean-Pierre Dubois (France) and Mr.Michael Ellman, solicitor (United Kingdom) visited Turkey at the invitation of IHD and TIHV. In addition to meeting NGOs and a recently released prisoner, they met the President of the Parliamentary Commission of inquiry for Human Rights and the Deputy Under Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

They were particularly concerned about the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders including officers of IHD, TIHV, TMA, etc. The definition of terrorism in Turkish law is so wide that anyone who is thought to have had contacts with illlegal organizations can be arrested. As a result,over 10,000 people are held in Turkish jails, either on remand on convicted, mostly for "crimes" of opinion. "Under the European Convention for Human Rights", said M.Ellman, "no one should be charged or detained for what he or she has said or written".
They were informed of serious allegations about torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and they called for an impartial inquiry into the situation in the prisons. In particular following the protests and hunger strikes relating to the transfer to F type prisons they learned that prisoners are kept isolated.

"Social contact and communal facilities should be allowed without conditions, but we saw no evidence of any facilities despite official claims", said Prof. Dubois. The FIDH points out that solitary confinement is contrary to international standards and is gravely concerned about the lack of medical care particularly for such prisoners as former MP Leyla Zana. Despite some changes in Turkish law designed to answer the prisoners’ demands, there appears to be no effective dialogue with the hunger-strikers although IHD has offered its good offices.

The delegation asked to visit a prison but this was not possible in the time available. While in Ankara the delegation noted a demonstration held by civil servants against the proposed suppression of their right to collective bargaining, and it insisted upon Turkey’s need to comply with international conventions as a pre-requisite for their admission to the European Union but was concerned to note regressive steps in this field.

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