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Meeting on F-type prisons at the Istanbul Bar Association

April 8th, 2008

On April 5, the Istanbul Bar Association was the scene of a meeting in connection with the failure to implement the “right to conversation” for prisoners in the F-Type prisons. As has been reported, on January 22, 2007 the Justice Ministry issued a circular numbered 45/1 which led to the provisional halt to the Death Fasts against solitary confinement.
However the prisoners have still not been able to benefit from the right to converse that is promised in the circular’s alleviation of isolation conditions. The prisoners’ organisation TAYAD, which for years has fought on the side of the prisoners for the lifting of isolation, called for the present meeting to be held at the Bar Association.

In its appeal, the organisation noted that the circular said prisoners were guaranteed the right entitled to converse in groups of 10 people for 10 hours a week, unconditionally. The Justice Minister even said in public that these 10 hours could be raised to 20 hours.

Despite the promise, prisoners in the F-Types have not even been able to enjoy the 10 hours. At today’s meeting the lawyer Behic Asci spoke among other things about the failure to heed this right and also mentioned solutions. He also discussed the attitude of the Justice Ministry and the General Directorate of the Prisons.

Among those invited to the meeting were the DISK and KESK trade unions, as well as the Doctors’ Chamber of Turkey, the Association of Chambers of Engineers and Architects, the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (CHD), as well as families of prisoners and members of the press.

In the meantime the ODP (Freedom and Solidarity Party) member of parliament Ufuk Uras sent a question about the circular to the Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin. The question said:

“Can it be that the right to ‘converse’, a concrete and serious step towards solving the problem of prison isolation, is not being put into practice for subjective reasons? If this is the case, do the responsible officials of the Justice Ministry see themselves as entitled to put pressure on political prisoners and convicts?”

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