Striking Turkish Inmates Reject Hiatus in Prison Plans
Turkish prison inmates on a hunger strike against a plan to relocate them in new jails refused to halt their movement despite a government decision to postpone the move, a mediator said in Ankara on Sunday.
"The inmates consider that the declaration by the minister (of justice) was insufficient," the Anatolia agency quoted mediator and journalist Oral Calislar as saying.
"For now, there is no hope of putting an end to this movement," said Calislar, who was part of a delegation of intellectuals that visited protesters at the Bayrampasa prison in Istanbul.
More than 200 prisoners have been on a death fast for over 50 days to protest the jails, known as F-type prisons, on the grounds that they aim to isolate prisoners physically and socially.
Three of the inmates are in critical condition.
Faced with the looming threat of imminent deaths, Turkish Justice Minister Hikmet Sami Turk announced Saturday that he had postponed the opening of the new prisons "until there is a social consensus on these establishments."
"The plan will be reassessed so that these establishments satisfy all contemporary and universal criteria on detention," he said.
"The F-type prisons were designed to eliminate the adversities of the dormitory system, where members of illegal organizations, mafia leaders or even ... common criminals establish control over their fellow inmates," Turk told reporters on a recent tour of the Sincan prison.
It is one of the 11 new jails Turkey was planning to introduce next year, consisting of cells for up to three people compared to the existing regime of keeping up to 60 prisoners in a large dormitory.
Turkey says it has no control over its jails and maintains that the overcrowded dormitories are the main reason for the frequent riots and hostage-taking which prompt heavy crackdowns by security forces, ending in death and injuries.
Anatolia quoted Calislar as saying he would resume mediation on Sunday at the Bayrampasa prison, where prisoners demanded that the government abandon the project in favor of dormitories designed to hold from 15 to 20 inmates -- ANKARA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)