Music band releases film on Turkish F-type prisons

Music band releases film on Turkish F-type prisons

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Music band releases film on Turkish F-type prisons

Group Yorum members Caner Bozkurt (L) and Inan Altın are seen in this photo. The band members worked for a year to build a film set in Kocaeli. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkish band Grup Yorum, which is known for its strong leftist tendencies, is releasing a new film to raise awareness about the widespread use of solitary confinement in Turkish jails.

“Solitary confinement has been in use in Turkey for 12 years. And it is being censored in order not to raise public consciousness,” İnan Altın, one of the members of the band, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
In Turkey, the jails that impose solitary confinement on prisoners are known as F-Type prisons.

“F-Type prisons are organized as cells; the convicts cannot see anyone outside of the cells. At most, three convicts stay together in one cell,” Altın said.

For the film, the group members worked for a year to build a film set in the northwestern province of Kocaeli resembling the F-Type cells.

Directed by 10 different directors, including prominent names such as Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Barış Pirhasan and Hüseyin Karabey, the film will be previewed at Atlas Cinema in Beyoğlu, Istanbul, on Dec. 19, the 12th anniversary of the beginning of the F-Type system.

In preparation for the transition to the F-Type system, authorities launched raids on a number of prisons around the country in an operation that led to the deaths of 30 prisoners and two soldiers.
The film will go into wider release on Dec. 21, simultaneously appearing in Turkey and in European countries with English, French and German subtitles where relevant.

Stories from convicts were collected

“We collected hundreds of stories from the convicts and decided to bring them to the silver screen. Our original plan was to make 10 separate short films, but then the stories intersected and turned into a feature film,” Altın said, adding that foreign audience would learn many things from the film.

“They will see the unknown face of Turkey. Last year, one of our members was put into an F-Type prison, and last month some members were put under house arrest due to their dissident tendencies. Our friend has been in prison for 10 months merely because he is a group member,” group member Caner Bozkurt told the Daily News.

“F-Type prisons are based on a system which criminalizes people’s intellectual activities. As group members, we are paying the price for telling the facts and defending the truth,” Bozkurt said.

Members of the band have faced constant harassment from authorities since the group was formed 27 years ago, with many musicians having spent time in jail for their political activities.