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Four Women Political Prisoners Die On Hunger Strike
"Let us break down the walls of the cells
and give life to human beings"

Mags Glennon • Solidarity with Hunger Strikers in Turkey

The past three weeks have seen the deaths of four young women prisoners in the ongoing hunger strike against the F-type isolation prisons in Turkey.

55 hunger strikers have now died on the Death Fast, which began in October 2000. A total of 95 people have died overall in the protest against the isolation prisons.

Semra Basyigit
Semra Basyigit, aged 22, died on 30th July after 367 days on hunger strike.

Semra had studied at Uludag University and became involved in revolutionary politics in 1996. She wrote for the magazine Kurtulus ('Liberation') and was imprisoned for a short time in 1998. She resumed political activity on her release. She took part in solidarity actions in support of the political prisoners and went on hunger strike with relatives and friends of prisoners. She was jailed in January 2001 and continued her struggle in prison by volunteering for the Death Fast in Kartal Special Prison.

Fatma Bilgin
Fatma Bilgin died on August 10 in Ankara Numune Hospital. She had been on hunger strike since June 3rd 2001 and was brought to hospital in March 2002, where she was subjected to the torture of forcible medical intervention, a process which rendered her unconscious. In Turkey persons in hospital are allowed to have a companion, usually a friend or relative, stay with them. Fatma's relatives say that this right was withdrawn in her case as the authorities wanted to try further force feeding.

Fatma had served seven years of a twelve year sentence for the offence of 'membership of an organisation".

On August 12th the military attacked 500 people attending Fatma's funeral in the village of Kuzetepe. Eleven people were detained, two of whom received serious head injuries in the attack.

Birsen Hosver
Birsen Hosver, aged 32, died in Ankara Numune Hospital on August 22nd.

Birsen studied languages, history and geography in Ankara University, where she was involved in youth struggles and organisations. She was detained and spent several months in prison. She left university in 1995 and became involved full time in political struggles, during which time she was detained and tortured.

In 1997 she decided to become a guerilla and joined an armed propaganda unit of rural guerillas in the Dersim area. She was arrested in February 1999.

She began the Death Fast on September 26th 2001 on the 7th Death Fast team. While in Malatya Prison she was put in with the non-political prisoners in an attempt to break her resistance. When this failed she was put in total isolation, which also failed to break her.

Gulnihal Yilmaz
Gulnihal Yilmaz, aged 37, started her hunger strike on June 3rd 2001 and died in Kutahya Prison on 25th August 2002, the 449th day of the struggle.

She had been a law student and involved in student and youth campaigns. She was jailed in 1993 as a member of the DHKP-C and was held in several Turkish jails. In the December 2000 prison massacre she saw her friends murdered in the state attack on the prisons.

Political background
Turkey is currently in severe political turmoil. It is an economic basket case, kept going solely on multi-billion dollar 'rescue packages' from the International Monetary Fund. The country has mass unemployment and 18% of people live below the level of absolute poverty.

The elderly Prime Minister, Bülent Ecevit, is dying and the succession battle is on. A General Election not due until April 2004, will be held this autumn. As the old Democratic Left Party - the main coalition partner - falls apart a faction is re-organising to present itself as a reforming movement which will bring a social democratic Turkey into the EU.

The recent passage of laws dropping the death penalty and providing some legal rights for the Kurdish people were aimed at presenting Turkey in a good light to the EU. Militarily Turkey is of extreme importance to the American 'war against terrorism'. At present Turkey commands the International Assistance Force in Afghanistan and it's role as a NATO member will make it's support vital in the upcoming American war against Iraq.

Despite the reports in the Western media about democratic reforms in Turkey the repression against the hunger strikers and their supporters has continued.

On August 11th dozens of people were detained at the house of Niyazi Agriman, where a solidarity hunger strike was going on. Four people were subjected to two days of physical and psychological torture before being brought before the State Security Court. Others, who were released, continued the resistance at the house.

On August 16th a number of prisoner support groups, including the families group TAYAD, visited the French consulate to hand in a request about the F-type prisons. The group was attacked by the police and 13 people were detained.

What to do?
In Ireland 'Solidarity with Hunger Strikers in Turkey' is still active and holds protest vigils at the Turkish Embassy in Dublin each time a hunger striker dies. The protests are well supported, but new people are also needed. Recent protests have been increasingly monitored by police, special branch and Turkish Embassy officials, attempting to intimidate the picketers out of protesting.

The organisation publicises the issues in the hunger strike and raises awareness and support in Ireland for the ongoing protest of Turkey's political prisoners.

More information can be obtained from our website at

The 95th Life In The Deat Fast: Gulnihal Yilmaz
The Tayad Families

Gulnihal Yilmaz started resistance to the F-Type isolation prisons on June 3, 2001 in Kutahya Prison, as part of the 5th Death Fast Team. On August 25, 2002, the 449th day of the resistance, she was martyred in Kutahya Prison.

Gulnihal was born in 1965. She was the child of a family in Sivas (central Turkey) which was Cherkess by nationality. (Note: The Cherkess or Circassians are a minority mainly found in the Caucasian part of the Russian Federation, but a number of them moved to the Ottoman Empire after the Caucasus came under the domination of Tsarist Russia in the 19th century. They remain a distinct group in Turkey.) She came to know the revolutionary struggle during the years 1988 and 1989. During that time she was a student in the law faculty of Ankara University. She took part in the academic and democratic struggle of student youth.

In July 1993 she was jailed as a DHKP-C Trial prisoner. First she was put in Ankara Ulucanlar Prison, and from there she was transported to Sakarya Prison. After the August 17 earthquake (1999) she was removed to Canakkale Prison. She experienced the December 19 "Operation Return to Life". Her friends were murdered before her eyes. After December 19 she was transported to Kutahya Prison.

Gulnihal Yilmaz continued the Death Fast resistance to her last breath with determination and devotion, demanding that the inhuman conditions in the F-Type Prisons be removed. Gulnihal's was the 95th life taken by isolation.

Up to the present, 95 human beings have died. As a result of forcible medical intervention, hundreds of human beings have been left handicapped. How many more will die, how many more will be left handicapped?







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If they give you ruled paper, write the other way..
- Juan Ramon Jimenez

Index: Current Articles

30 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Four Women Political Prisoners Die On Hunger Strike
Mags Glennon


A State In A Sectarian Society
Anthony McIntyre


Derry Homily
Brian Mór


The Violence of Curfew
Sam Bahour


Colombian Solidarity
Sean Smyth


The Oldest Profession
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


25 August 2002


Compassionate Parole
Marian Price


Culture of Hate?
Billy Mitchell


An Agenda Less Hidden
Davy Carlin


The Rioting Police
Anthony McIntyre


Still Life of Sorts
Brian Mór


No Surrender!
Brian Mór


Not An Inch!
Brian Mór


The Adventures of Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór




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