The resistance of the political prisoners in Turkey to isolation
imprisonment, which began on October 20, 2000, has continued since
then without interruption.
The approximately 100 political prisoners who started the Death Fast
on October 20, have duly fulfilled their task as the leading force in
the resistance to isolation.
In this resistance, 107 people have lost their lives up to the
present. About 500 political prisoners were turned into the living
dead through force feeding, used as an instrument of torture for use
against the Death Fast, a medical intervention that was intentionally
botched. 500 of our people were condemned by that to suffer from the
incurable Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and a large proportion of them
have lost their memory.
Besides the people who have lost their lives and memory there are
also hundreds of people who have been wounded and imprisoned in
operations by the state because they resisted prison isolation and
showed solidarity with the political prisoners.
A resistance accompanied by massacres, torture, martyrs and lasting
physical damage. The periphery, the families and comrades of our
people who have taken part in the resistance are constantly
confronted with death, and it is never clear who will be the next to
die. The pain, mourning and sorrow over the dead and over the
crippled is ever present even if one only looks at it from the
humanitarian viewpoint. The lack of alternatives to death, the lack
of ability to stop the deaths have caused great pain to our people.
Besides this price, thousands of our people have taken part in
actions, both great and small, as a part of this resistance in the
course of the past three years. Almost all these actions have been
brutally attacked by the police. Thousands have been beaten, hundreds
imprisoned. While in one sense the resistance to isolation started in
the prisons, with time it has been transmitted to the people and
become the most mass and radical form of opposition.
THE REPRESSION WAS STEPPED UP
THE RESISTANCE WAS EXPANDED STEP BY STEP
On December 19, the 61st day of the Death Fast resistance, the state
in Turkey attacked 20 prisons where there was resistance with a view
to carrying out a massacre. 28 prisoners were slaughtered with bombs,
beaten to death with clubs or burned alive.
In this massacre the political prisoners were forcibly removed to
isolation prisons, designated as F-Type prisons. All prisoners who
were taken by force to these isolation prisons, were subjected to
severe torture. They were assaulted and raped by policemen and
soldiers with the aim of injuring their personalities. About a
thousand political prisoners responded to this massacre by the state
by starting the Death Fast and thereby sent a clear message that no
form of repression would put an end to the resistance.
LIFE IN THE F-TYPES
With the transfer of the prisoners into isolation prisons, they were
henceforth condemned to spend year s of their lives being tortured in
one-person isolation cells or else in small-group isolation
(three-person cells). They were no longer just prisoners. They were
also also forced to be experimental guinea pigs of imperialism which
sought to overcome their memories, break their will and destroy them
In this way Turkey began to carry out concentration camp measures
using the F-Type prisons.
Now the political prisoners try to pursue their resistance in the
isolation cells of a regime that is known to commit torture, murder
Besides the revolutionary prisoners resisting isolation, there are
also those who for personal reasons cannot cope with this living
conditions. In the past few months alone there have been three
suicides. Loneliness in the cells drive prisoners to their
psychological destruction and makes them liable to commit suicide.
This was also the aim of the isolation cells in the concentration
THE RESISTANCE THAT HAS GONE ON FOR 1000 DAYS
Until the day of the massacre in December 2000, the banner of the
Death Fast resistance was carried by the first and second Death Fast
Teams. which started in October 2000.
After the massacre and the massive increase in participation, nine
Death Fast Teams have taken part in the course of the struggle up to
the present. And now, when the Death Fast has reached its 1,000th day
the prisoners are preparing to demonstrate their resolve with the
10th Death Fast Team.
A SHORT HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE DEATH FAST AS AN AID TO
On September 12, 1980 in Turkey, a fascist, pro-American military
junta took power. Right in the initial period of the coup there was
mass imprisonment and, connected to that, a tradition of resistance.
One of the the first aims of the junta was to negate the identity of
political prisoners in various ways, using various methods, while the
most dynamic political forces in the country were locked up in jail.
First they tried to introduce prison uniforms to make prisoners alike
and rob them of their identity. Resistance to prison uniforms took
place. Finally, in 1984, the weapon of the Death Fast resistance was
resorted to for the first time in Turkey`s prisons, under the
leadership of Devrimci Sol (Revolutionary Left). This resistance,
which gave four martyrs, ended with political success. This political
success achieved the abolition of the uniforms. This first Death Fast
resistance in our history was personally led by our leader Dursun
Karatas, along with leading Devrimci So
The Death Fast resistance of 1984 represented an important turning
point in the history of prison resistance. This period destroyed the
entire rehabilitation programme of the military prisons and made
resistance into a tradition. And resistance as a tradition in turn
created a new concept in our history: the FREE PRISONERS. The concept
of the Free Prisoners makes an important contribution to our
attitude, which is that the enemy can imprison, massacre and torture
us but cannot make us surrender.
In the prisons, constant resistance was carried on. At the same time
they offered the greatest inspiration for the class struggle outside
the prisons. The NGOs, which had lost ground as a result of the
military coup, revived with the 1984 Death Fast. In the new period
the struggles of workers, youth and the women`s movement started, not
with strikes, demonstrations and boycotts, but with hunger strikes.
Although historically, hunger strikes were an action associated with
the prison struggle, they developed into a form of action used in the
By 1996 there was constant resistance in the Turkish prisons. Because
all the rights that were won through every form of resistance were
arbitrarily revoked by the state after some time had elapsed. Life in
the prisons was a cycle of repression, resistance and new victories.
During this entire period there was constant talk about the
successful use of isolation imprisonment used above all in Europe, as
well as white torture, practised in the USA and the EU, as well as
the rehabilitation measures for prisoners which were in particular
use in the USA and Italy. But these could not be used in our country
because of the resistance.
From 1990 there was again and again discussion of going over to
isolation prisons. As a first step for this transformation an
isolation prison was built in Eskisehir, but since 1990 it had been
impossible to carry out any transfers. When the authorities again
began to talk about transfers to Eskisehir in 1996, the prisoners had
no alternative to considering the Death Fast. The 1996 Death Fast
achieved a new victory at the cost of 12 martyrs, transfer into the
cells was stopped.
But after the 1996 victory the state did not dispense with its
isolation policy. But it recognised that it could not carry out its
wishes because of the resistance and the concept of Free Prisoners.
So now its aim was to break the prisoners` powers of resistance.
In this phase which brought about the Death Fast of 2000, the state
committed massacres in individual prisons from 1995 onwards.
In Buca three DHKP-C prisoners were beaten to death with clubs on the
excuse that they were trying to escape.
After the 1996 Death Fast victory, in Diyarbakir, 10 prisoners were
beaten to death with clubs.
Again, in Umraniye Prison, four DHKP-C prisoners were beaten to death
at the start of 1996.
On September 26, 1999 prisoners in Ulucanlar complained about their
dormitories being overcrowded. The response to this was an assault in
which the state murdered 10 revolutionary prisoners, some of them
were beaten to death while others were shot.
Besides the massacres in this period that have been enumerated, there
were also a number of attempted massacres as well as individual
harassment of prisoners.
All these massacres had but one aim: to make revolutionary prisoners
surrender by using violence and terror, to destroy their political
identity, to isolate them and prepare the way for putting them in
The state always lays stress on saying: "Either you will
surrender or you will all die." The prisoners have always
replied by saying that they would rather die than surrender.
Before prisoners were transferred into the F-Type prisons, prisoners
of the DHKP-C, TKP(ML) and TKIP started the Death Fast resistance on
October 20, 2000 to oppose the isolation policy.
The great resistance, in which heroism has been displayed, has
continued since then.
THE DEATH FAST BECAME MANIFEST:
EVERYTHING FALLS INTO PLACE
The state in Turkey first made the demagogic claim that the Death
Fast was taking place because of pressure from organisations whose
militants were using compulsion.
Then the state claimed that there was no hunger strike at all and
prisoners were eating secretly. As the Death Fast went on the state
resorted to threats, interventions and attacks.
On December 19, the state attacked 20 prisons, slaughtered 28
prisoners and injured hundreds of others. About 1000 prisoners who
survived the massacre were transferred into the F-Types among
circumstances of torture and harassment.
After the first deaths occurred in the Death Fast and the number of
corpses being removed from the F-Type prisons grew, the state began
to use the torture of force feeding and to damage prisoners
physically and mentally.
After deaths continued, in spite of the medical intervention, the
state attempted bribery, using something that is of the highest value
for prisoners: prisoners who were at death`s door were released.
The Death Fast resistance carried out by the families of prisoners
outside prison, became centralised in the people`s neighbourhood of
Kucukarmutlu (Istanbul) and it became the centre of actions outside
DHKP-C prisoners, who were released as a result of these attempts at
bribery, began to settle in Kucukarmutlu, where the TAYAD Families
were also resisting, and there they continued with the Death Fast.
Deaths also started to occur there.
The state did not simply gaze at the centre of the resistance and do
nothing: In November 2001 it carried out two massacres. The December
19 massacre was repeated and and four of our people were murdered by
state forces who used gas canisters and firearms, and others were
wounded. To protest against the massacre in Armutlu, three DHKP-C
prisoners carried out a sacrificial action in solidarity with TAYAD
and lost their lives in prison.
Besides the massacres, the state also sought to end the resistance by
changing the law.
It was forbidden to publish reports about the Death Fast.
In addition there was a bill to ban solidarity actions. As though
that were not enough, a law was drafted which banned hunger strikes
and Death Fasts. So it was prohibited to show solidarity with the
prisoners in any form whatsoever.
The state is continuing its repression, extortion and force feeding
torture at present, indeed this has taken on a permanent character.
The EU has always raised the Copenhagen criteria, human rights and
torture when there is discussion about Turkey.
But when it came to the isolation prisons the EU said that these
corresponded to “European standards”, that prisoners were forced into
Death Fasts by organisations and the isolation cells were more
humane. With such demagogy it gave its clear consent to massacres and
With this attitude it is is directly complicit in the deaths of 107
people who fought against isolation.
The Left in Turkey: Right at the start of the Death Fast, its
response was that the Death Fast was wrong and the time was not yet
ripe. However, most of them took part after the December 19 massacre.
During the days of the December 19 massacre, the PKK`s prisoners, who
are the most numerous group, made the following statement:
“Commander, they`re nothing to do with us, we are not resisting”.
That was the first big split.
After that their General Secretary personally expressed their
attitude: “We made our differences clear, and that it is good."
With the forcible transfer of prisoners into the F-Type prisons after
December 19, the ties of organisations with prisoners reached their
The lack of clarity over whether the resistance was continuing in the
cells or not reached a new dimension in March 2001 with further
deaths. Despite everything the resistance continued.
Admittedly, after a while various left organisations expressed the
view that "it is not possible for the resistance to win in this
way, we must expand the struggle outside prison above all, so we are
ending the Death Fast." This led to a further split in the
But what they said was untrue, no matter how much they tried to
support their split with ideological arguments. They lacked the
political and ideological resolve to continue resisting.
The split strengthened the state and encouraged to think it could
bring an end to the resistance without making any concessions.
So the Justice Minister at the time, Hikmet Sami Turk, known to the
people as Goebbels, made the error of saying that "if nobody
supports them, if there are no reports in the press, the Death Fast
will end after a year."
It was the split that gave him the strength to say that.
With the split, the resistance entered a new phase. More than ever
the resistance was carried out by the DHKP-C prisoners alone. The
resistance to isolation rested more than ever on the shoulders of the
It was also a phase in which the state was strengthened in its
attitude of not yielding and in which the price to pay became a
Claims that the centre of gravity of the resistance had shifted
outside of the prisons turned out to be worthless. They did not do
anything outside. For all their lofty words at the time of the split,
they did not want to talk about prison isolation any more.
The European Left and the Left worldwide: At the start of the
resistance there was a surge but after a while solidarity actions
noticeably tailed off. Of course there were also deficiencies, people
were not informed in a correct or timely manner. But the prolonged
nature of the struggle and the high price caused some circles to
discuss the correctness of the resistance.
But these discussions were never conducted with those actually
responsible of the resistance. This attitude developed in practice
into silence and a tendency to distance themselves. This criticism
does not extend to our friends from Ireland, who also have a lot of
experience of hunger strikes to the death. In addition, some friends
from Italy and Greece showed sensitivity on the issue of the prisons
but they could not break the silence of Europe.
The left in Europe has big problems understanding the Death Fast and
has a lot of gaps when it comes to resistance that involves putting
one`s life at stake.
But it has a lot of experience over decades when it comes to
experience of prisons and prison isolation. However, in Europe the
struggle against prison isolation was lost. These aspects have all
strengthened indifference when it comes to isolation. A political
attitude that accepts isolation cells and the demagogy of imperialism
claiming that individual cells are better for private life than the
communal dormitories and which has strengthened insensitivity with
regard to isolation.
Logically, the struggle against isolation in Turkey also was shadowed
by such false evaluations.
A further cause lies also in the nature of the Death Fast itself.
The Death Fast is a form of action based on death. It is not an
action that can be carried out without taking death into account,
without dying. Of course it is about the death of revolutionary
And each death brings moral confusion to those who are outside the
resistance and forces them to reckon with themselves.
Those who make such a reckoning naturally also think about what kind
of revolutionary they are, and how resistance can achieve victory in
a moral and dignified way. And such a reckoning brings new tasks and
responsibilities with it. In order to avoid such a reckoning, such a
responsibility, they oppose the Death Fast as a form of resistance
and show that they distance themselves from resistance as a political
attitude. In addition, the attitude towards life and being a
revolutionary plays a role in such mistakes. The demagogy that claims
life is sacred is currently used by imperialism against all forms of
struggle in which death must be taken into account. The viewpoint
about the price to be paid and death must be clear for
revolutionaries. If you don`t want such a high price to be paid, you
should support this resistance and shorten the distance to the
objective. A bourgeois humanist shows sympathy with regard to the
price to be paid for a just cause.
This sympathy is also the most common attitude among the European
But then what is the difference between a revolutionary who claims to
be against the system and a bourgeois humanist?
This viewpoint of the European left is not only important in relation
to its passivity regarding the Death Fast, but also with regard to
the European left`s position in the class struggle.
Moreover, the use of isolation is designed to assimilate and destroy
people, their memory and their beliefs.
Isolation is torture, death by torture. Although that is the common
view of the entire left spectrum it is questionable how seriously
they take their own statements.
The aim of the Death Fast is to put an end to this death by torture.
This attitude is not merely addressed to those who call themselves
left-wing, communist, anti-system, but to all those who call
themselves human beings.
So isolation is a subject that all defenders of human rights should
OUR DEATH FAST TODAY IS A STRUGGLE TO PUT AN END TO DYING. IT DOES
NOT AIM TO CAUSE DEATH BUT TO GIVE LIFE
The lives of our comrades are very valuable to us. There was no
question of preferring to carry out the Death Fast. This was not our
preference. The state`s attitude is clear: "Either surrender or
die." In the face of such a threat, the Death fast is a
What do those who say, "I don`t think this is right, it costs
people their lives" believe that we are thinking?
In a time when there is capitulation going on all over the world,
where denial and surrender is being presented as revolutionary, we
are an organisation that aims at revolution and acts with
revolutionary seriousness and consciousness of power.
And this is happened at a time when the socialist bloc was dissolved,
and happened in countries where there was revolution and the
guerrillas almost took over power but handed the country over to
imperialism and the oligarchy.
One of the characteristics that sets us apart is that we support our
comrades, the organisation and the people, we can sacrifice ourselves
for these values and under no circumstances surrender.
The most basic examples of this are found in the Death Fast. In the
1996 resistance there were 12 martyrs. And 12 revolutionaries were
martyred in actions designed to support the Death Fast.
The 2000 Death Fast offers many more examples of that.
The prisoners started the Death Fast. The families outside prison
"laid down to die". Three DHKP-C fighters carried out
sacrificial actions. And then Front fighters formed sacrificial units
aimed at abolishing isolation.
Families laid down to die in order that the prisoners would not have
to die. They died. The state massacred families. Then prisoners
carried out sacrificial actions to protest against the massacre of
The released prisoners continue to die outside prison - with the aim
of protecting prisoners from death by torture.
Now the number of prisoners consists mainly of those who from October
2000 to the present protested against the F-Type prisons and took
part in actions to support the prisoners.
The Death Fast was to a large extent conducted by the prisoners who
were held at that time.
This resistance conducted, inside and outside the prisons, by cadres
and by supporters, by militants and by housewives, by young and old,
man and woman.
The struggle against isolation has taken on a mass character and
heroic deeds were performed by the people.
Those who brought about our resistance with these dimensions drew
strength from it so that we could support our comrades, protect them
and show our ties to them.
WE CALL ON EVERYONE TO MAKE THE RESISTANCE THEIR OWN AND TO SUPPORT
OUR PRISONERS IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ISOLATION.
It should never be forgotten that our struggle against prison
isolation is not merely for ourselves.
At the same time it is a struggle against the terrorism imperialism
practises worldwide against the peoples and their resistance.
A victory over the isolation cells in Turkey would at the same time
be a triumph over the isolation cells of Europe and the USA, as well
as a victory over the isolation torture that imperialism wants to
spread to all neo-colonial countries in the world.
We know only too well that if prison isolation could have been
prevented in Europe, it wouldn`t exist in Turkey today.
If we don`t hold out against the F-Types today, then the introduction
of isolation imprisonment will be discussed in many other countries.
No state repression and no price we had to pay could stop our
struggle. Although they put our comrades in isolation cells, they
could not cut them off from the struggle and from their people.
So the isolation cells have still not achieved their aim today. The
state that saw that the F-Types were not sufficient to isolate our
comrades has now started building underground prisons.
The construction of these cells which are totally dark and which are
so low that a human being cannot stand upright is well under way.
We are continuing to resist. And we invite all to be with us to
prevent further deaths and to achieve a victory over imperialism and
the fascist regime. SOLIDARITY IS THE CONSCIENCE OF THE PEOPLES
HEROES DO NOT DIE, THE PEOPLE CANNOT BE DEFEATED
THE CARAVAN OF RESISTANCE HAS CONTINUED ITS JOURNEY FOR 1000 DAYS