Turkish Government Cracks Down On Anti-War Demonstrators and Hunger Strikers

October 15, 2001

In Istanbul Turkey on Sunday, riot police used dogs and truncheons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting the military strikes on Afghanistan, two days after firing tear gas to break up another demonstration by 2,000 Islamists.

Polls indicate that some 70 percent of the public oppose the U.S. strikes on Afghanistan, fearing that it could engulf Turkey. But the sprawling Incirlik air base, in south-central Turkey is apparently being used as a transport hub in the US attacks against Afghanistan.

Turkey is a prime example of the bargains the US is willing to make in order to enlist allies for its so-called war against terrorism.

Over people in Turkey have fasted to death in recent months and hundreds more are on hunger strike, in protest at jail conditions and human rights abuses.

The prisoners are striking to protest what are called F-type prisons, introduced in 1996, which house political prisoners in single cells holding between one and three people and replace the dormitory-style accommodation that had held up to 60 prisoners. The Turkish government says the cells are needed to contain political activity by left wing groups. The strikers and most human rights groups say that the prison conditions amount to gross human rights abuses.


  • Gurkan Gur, European representative of the Turkish Hunger Strikers.
  • Kitty Holland, reporter with the Irish Times. She went to Istanbul in September to investigate the situation of the hunger strikers and wrote a feature story "Fasting til death."