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New Turkish Government Shuts Jail for Political Convicts

November 26, 1991

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ The new government, seeking to improve Turkey’s human rights image, will shut down a maximum-security prison for people convicted of terrorism, news reports said Monday.

The decision followed a 25-day hunger strike by political prisoners at the jail in the northwestern town of Eskisehir. The protesters said they had been beaten and tortured following a jail break in Ankara.

Government spokesman Akin Gonen said the decision was made in an effort ″to oppose all actions which are incompatible with humanity,″ and ″to reject torture as a method (of extracting confessions) and resolutely come against it.″

Ayse Keceli, an official of the Turkish Human Rights Association, said it was not immediately clear if the prisoners had ended their hunger strike.

″They generally wait until they are put in vehicles for transfer (to standard jails), having seen many times before that such promises were never kept,″ she said.

Justice Minister Seyfi Oktay told reporters the 206 inmates would be dispersed to other jails starting Monday.

Turkey’s human rights record reached a low during the three-year military rule that followed the 1980 army coup.

While reports of torture declined, charges of rights abuses continued in recent years, although the Motherland Party government signed international resolutions banning torture and introduced a liberal parole bill.

Motherland was defeated in the Oct. 20 general election by the center-right True Path Party, which formed a coalition government with the Social Democrats last week.

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