Turkey: Court rules on mass prison hunger strike human rights complaint

A prison hunger strike, in protest at plans to reduce cell sizes, led to human rights violations by Turkish authorities, Strasbourg judges ruled today.

Songül İnce and Others v. Turkey (nos. 25595/08 and 34252/10)

The 18 applicants are Turkish nationals. They were born between 1951 and 1977, and were being held at Bayrampasa prison at the relevant time.

The case concerned the “death fast,” a hunger strike launched by a large number of prisoners in Turkey in October 2000, in protest at a prison project involving reducing cell sizes for prisoners.

On 18 December 2000 the Director of Bayrampasa prison requested intervention by the security forces, explaining that 45 prisoners on hunger strike were refusing to submit to medical examinations and treatment being offered by the prison medical staff.

On 19 December 2000, the security forces intervened simultaneously in some 20 different prisons. During that operation there were violent clashes between the security forces and the prisoners. Twelve prisoners were killed and some 50 injured, some of them by firearm, in Bayrampasa prison where the applicants were incarcerated. After their evacuation, the injured applicants were taken to hospital and the others were transferred to different prisons.

Relying in particular on Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicants complained of the use of force, which they considered to have been excessive and disproportionate, by the authorities during the operation in Bayrampasa prison.

They also complained that they had been subjected to the unjustified use of teargas.

Application no. 25595/08 declared inadmissible by the court

Violation of Article 2 – in respect of Songül İnce
Violation of Article 3 – in respect of Özgül Dede, Gülperi Özen, Aydan Odabaş and Fatma Güzel

Just satisfaction: EUR 15,000 to Songül İnce, EUR 10,000 each to Özgül Dede and Gülperi Özen, and EUR 8,000 each to Aydan Odabaş and Fatma Güzel (non-pecuniary damage), and EUR 3,000 jointly to Songül İnce, Özgül Dede, Gülperi Özen, Aydan Odabaş et Fatma Güzel (costs and expenses)

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