Amnesty Calls for Independent Probe into Turkey Prison Raids

Published December 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Amnesty International called Wednesday for a full and independent inquiry into Tuesday's prison raids across Turkey by security forces in which 17 people died. 

The human rights organisation said it was deeply concerned about the dawn assaults -- 15 of the dead were prisoners, many of whom had set themselves ablaze. Fifty-seven people were injured. 

It called for "a full, independent and impartial investigation into all instances in which individuals have been killed or wounded in the operation, the results of which should be made public." 

Amnesty said those alleged to be responsible should be suspended from their duties pending the outcome of an investigation. 

It also called on Turkey to "ensure that security officers refrain from the use of excessive force, torture or ill-treatment of prisoners as a matter of urgency." 

The raids on 20 jails were aimed at ending a two-month-old strike by inmates protesting plans to introduce prison reforms which they claim could expose them to more repression. 

Turkey wants to put an end to prison dormitories housing up to 60 inmates and replace them with smaller three-in-a-cell units. 

Amnesty also asked that victim's lawyers be allowed "to observe autopsies and to visit their clients in prison or hospital, while ensuring that the wounded receive medical treatment under independent supervision and observation." 

More than 200 inmates, mainly from the extreme left, had been on a "death fast" for 61 days to protest the prison reforms. 

Some 1,000 others had been on a limited hunger strike, taking only small amounts of sugar and water. 

The justice ministry said 575 hunger strikers were "rescued" during the raids and admitted to hospital. It said the operation was launched to "save the lives of inmates" after lengthy mediation efforts failed -- ANKARA (AFP) 



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