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Issue No. 1729

TURKEY: The Turkish state murdered 30 left wing political prisoners in a military assault on 20 prisons just before Christmas. The massacre was so savage that it brought condemnation even from European governments that are keen on Turkey joining the European Union. The roll call of the dead and how they died is harrowing:

Firat Tavuk, Byrampasa prison, 'special team shot him'; Ilker Babacan, Canakkale prison, 'beaten to death'; Umut Gedik, Umraniye prison, 'beaten and shot'... Over 100 other political prisoners were badly wounded from gas bombs, incendiary devices, bullets and beatings. Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit ordered the attack to crush a mass hunger strike by political prisoners.

They were protesting against moves to break them up into isolated smaller cells where they will be even more vulnerable to torture. Human rights monitors and solicitors have documented thousands of cases of torture in Turkey's horrific prison regime. The Turkish government has launched a war inside the prisons just as it faces widespread protests against the austerity measures it is introducing at the behest of the International Monetary Fund.

Turkey is a member of NATO. The prison massacre might have embarrassed its allies, but Britain, the US and the European Union continue to supply arms to Turkey and back its murderous government.


AFGHANISTAN: The United Nations is threatening sanctions against Afghanistan when the country is in the grip of a severe drought. The US and Russia are demanding sanctions because the ruling group, the Taliban, has not handed over Osama bin Laden, who is accused of international terrorism. Around 12 million people in Afghanistan are affected by the drought. Three million of them are on the brink of starvation. The World Food Programme feeds up to five million people. If sanctions are imposed they will withdraw all their foreign staff. Bakeries that are vital in feeding 500,000 people will close within three weeks of the sanctions being approved. 'The threat of sanctions has already led to aid operations in some parts of the country being halted and food supplies being interrupted,' said Phil Bloomer from Oxfam.


CHINA: A chinese union activist, Cao Maobing, has been imprisoned in a psychiatric ward for organising a protest against the sacking of half the workers at a silk factory in the eastern province of Jiangsu. The Chinese government routinely sends activists, people who complain about the corruption of the authorities, and members of the Falun Gong dissident religious sect to psychiatric hospitals to silence them.


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International
Sat 6 Jan 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1729
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