Rights Group: Turkey Used Corrosive Chemicals against Inmates
Turkish security forces used corrosive chemicals and fire bombs against inmates during a massive jail crackdown that left at least 28 dead, a Turkish human rights group said Sunday.
"Inmates in Istanbul's Bayrampasa prison claimed that security forces threw a chemical powder on them that starts burning once it touches the body," the Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) said in a statement.
"According to another claim, security forces used fire bombs at least in Bayrampasa prison" during a four-day crackdown on 20 jails to end a two-month hunger strike by hundreds of inmates, it added.
Turkish officials have said that 16 prisoners died by self-immolation ordered by outlawed extreme left groups they belonged to during the crackdown.
Officials have also released an alleged tape of telephone conversations between inmates in which a strike leader ordered that at least one inmate in each prison set fire to him or herself.
But the TIHV said postmortems of some victims supported the claims of the inmates that security forces used chemicals.
"We call for the establishment of an independent board of doctors, lawyers and experts to investigate particularly claims that chemicals were used," it said.
Along with the 16 inmates who died of self-immolation, 10 inmates and two soldiers were killed as prisoners used arms and explosives to resist the raids.
The declared aim of the operation was the "rescue" of hundreds of inmates on hunger strike for two months in protest at the planned opening of new jails with tighter security.
The crackdown resulted in the transfer of scores of inmates to jails built under the reform, in which cells for three people at most replace current dormitories housing up to 60 people.
Ankara says the packed dormitories in the old prisons have led to lax security, enabling inmates to smuggle in weapons and turn compounds into virtual fortresses, where riots and hostage-taking incidents were commonplace.
But the prisoners, backed by human rights groups, claim that government plans to house inmates in small cells will make them more liable to repression and abuse -- ANKARA (AFP)
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