Issue 4-2022 small

29 August 2002 Edition

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Turkish Death Fast toll reaches 55

Two more hunger strikers have succumbed in the past week, bringing the death toll in the ongoing death fast against the introduction of high security prisons in Turkey to 55.

On Sunday last, Gulnihal Yilmaz, a member of the 5th Death Fast Team, died in Kutahya Prison. She had started fasting on 3 June 2001 in the same prison. She had been jailed in 1993 as a DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Front) prisoner. Unlike the Irish hunger strikes in 1980 and 1981, the Turkish protesters have been taking vitamins and sugared water to prolong their fasts, thus the lengthy periods on protest.

Earlier that week, Birsen Hosver became the 54th person to die. Also a member of the DHKP-C, she died in an Ankara hospital after 250 days on protest. Serving a 12-year sentence, Hosver was a prisoner in Malatya, where she joined the Seventh Death Fast Team.

As well as the hunger strikers, during the protest, which is approaching its second anniversary, four prisoners burned themselves to death, 30 were massacred when police and soldiers stormed prisons in December 2000 and four more died last year in an armed raid on the Istanbul suburb where many death fasters continue their protest.

On Tuesday 20 August, Turkey's police raided the offices of two small leftist magazines and a group supporting the hunger strike, confiscating documents and detaining 21 people. Police in Istanbul broke down the doors at one of the offices after people inside barricaded themselves in and began burning documents, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The reasons for the raids were not immediately clear, but Anatolia reported that one of those detained was a militant of the outlawed DHKP-C.

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