Intervention into prison protested on anniversary

Intervention into prison protested on anniversary

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Intervention into prison protested on anniversary

A group of 300 people came together and waled to Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa prison, in which many prisoners lost their lives during a military intervention in 2000. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

On the 11th anniversary of a military intervention into Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa Prison, more than 300 people protested the ongoing prosecution process of the incident, claiming the responsible parties had still not been found.

Operation “Return to Life” was an alleged attempt to break the resistance of prisoners simultaneously protesting cell conditions at 20 prisons. Twenty-eight prisoners and two soldiers died in an operation between Dec. 19 and 20, 2000, and more than 300 were injured.

During yesterday’s protest organized by Struggle against Prisoners’ Isolation Platform, some witnesses and relatives of prisoners who had been killed claimed the operation aimed to kill prisoners, not “bring them back to life,” referring to the name of the operation, in a statement to the press.

According to reports, 30,000 gas bombs were used during the operation and at least 4,000 soldiers attended.

‘Crime against humanity’
Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) claimed more soldiers participated in this operation than the Cyprus intervention in 1974. “The operation’s real name was ‘Tufan’ [Typhoon], which is kind of making light of those prisoners killed,” Önder said.

“The operation was a crime against humanity, which is why the statute of limitations cannot be defended,” said lawyer Oya Aslan from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) after the protest.

Daily Radikal reported 2,145 peopled were detained for protesting the killings. One of the former inmates who witnessed the operation, Mehmet Güvel, told the Daily News they began to dance in the yard when the gendarme opened fire. “Soldiers were petrified for one second when they saw us dancing in the middle of the gunfire, but then they kept on shooting,” he said.

After 11 years, more than 10 court suits have been filed against prisoners and officials; two of the cases went against prisoners, four ended due to the statute of limitations while others ended for other reasons.

Meanwhile, retired Lt. Cmdr. Zeki Bingöl, who was on duty at the time, said during the operation that they used weapons that he had never seen before and added that he did not know whether they were chemicals.
Speaking to daily Zaman, Bingöl said the commander of the Police-Security Cooperation Protocol (EMASYA), which enabled soldiers to intervene directly in civilian incidents, took part in the operations and used bombs Bingöl had never seen before. “It was a pear-shaped plastic bomb and it is not in the inventory of the gendarmerie. I have never seen it in my professional life before. I do not know whether they are chemical weapons or not,” Bingöl said.