Security forces conducted operations in 20 prisons on 18 December 2000. 32 people, including two soldiers, lost their life as well as hundreds prisoners wounded in these operations.

In that period of time there was a plan to transfer political detainees and sentenced people from prisons, which consist of dormitories, to prisons that consist of cells and called as F Type. However political detainees and sentenced people and democratic opinion criticized isolation conditions of F Type prisons and warned the Ministry of Justice to not to open F Type prisons with existing conditions. Prisoners started hunger strike to protest F Type prisons on 20 October 2000. Warnings did not get any positive reponse from the Ministry and as it is mentioned above; operations in 20 prisons were conducted on 19 December 2000.

The Ministry of Justice called 19 December operation as “return to life operation”. However many people lost their life and wounded in these operations and prisoners turned the hunger strike into death fast, subsequently 122 people lost their life throughout years.

Human Rights Association (IHD), with a decision made in its 11th Ordinary General Assembly dated 16-17 November 2002, has declared “19 December” as “19 December Struggle for Human Rights and Solidarity Day in Prisons”.

8 years have passed since the operation.

Human rights problems in prisons have not been solved but are on increase. There is no development in a positive manner in the penal and execution of sentence policy of the state. There are deficiencies in the New Law on Execution of Sentences in terms of protection of prisoners’ rights. There are serious human rights violations in implementation of the law. Although rights and freedoms of prisoners should be under the guarantee of judicial protection, the office of execution judge functions as an agency that makes decisions against prisoners and legitimizes actions and procedures of administration of prisons. Similarly Prison Visiting Boards are not compatible with the principle of civil control in prisons. The Government has not sent Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT)

to the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM). Civil and legal control in prisons is so weak that 238 were subjected to torture and degrading during just the first 9 months of 2008. 36 people lost their life in prisons during the first 11 monhts of 2008. During the first 11 months of 2008, IHD has received 2110 applications from different prisons in Turkey. It is known that right to health is violated, arbitrary disciplinary punishments are applied, the circular 45/1, which aims to alleviate isolation conditions, are not implemented, ban on languages except for Turkish and on magazines and books are still in force in F type prisons.

F Type prisons are monitored with cameras for 24 hours. Such a monitor mostly causes arbitrary block of right to use of telephone, ban on writing and sending a letter to people out of prisons and not allowed to have interview with lawyer/s and/or relatives.

Although it is claimed that the New Turkish Penal Code has been prepared on the basis of respect to human rights and freedoms, it has seriously unfavourable regulations especially for freedom of expression. Moreover the law resulted in against freedoms. This situation cannot be justified as also only implementation problem. There were about 50 or 60 thousand prisoners in prisons, however; there is a significant increase in number of prisoners after the adoption of the new Turkish Penal Code. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Justice; there were 66 thousand prisoners in prisons in 2005 and this number increased upto 70 thousand in 2006 and 90 thousand in 2007 and 101 thousand in 2008. All of these points indicate that the state do not take steps towards protection of human rights and the situation does not improve towards protection and promotion of citizens.

It is clear that the penal and execution of sentence policy of the state is not compatible with human rights law..

We call on public opinion and officials in the 8th Commemoration of the 19 December operation:

  • All prisoners’ human dignity should be respected.
  • No prisoners should be kept under isolation and insulation conditions.
  • Those, who are responsible for 19 December massacre should be tried. Impunity policy, which is applied via prescription, should be ended.
  • The Ministry of Justice should implement the Circular no 45/1, which is prepared by the Ministry itself, immediately without any plead.
  • The Government should send Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) to TBMM. OPCAT should be ratified.
  • Court cases should be opened against public officers, who violate detainees and sentenced people, practice torture, wound or kill them. These court cases should be concluded before too long and perpetrators should be sentenced to imprisonment that they desire.
  • Prisons should be opened to civil control.
  • Prisoners’ right to defence, free from violence, right to health, educiation, nutrition, communication with their lawyer/s, family and outer world in general should be respected in prisons.
  • As isolation conditions, which have been applied for about 10 years, are against human rights, Imrali One Person Closed Prison, which is administrated with a special regulation, should be closed.
  • Ban on using any languages (in most cases Kurdish) except for Turkish in communication between prisoners and their family members and relatives should be abolished.
  • The New Law on Execution should be amended via consulting to expert and human rights organizations. Amendments should be compatible with human rights law.
  • Prisons for Women and Children and Correction houses should be reformed with a point of view of protecting human rights.


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