Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:
Turkey’s parliament has been rocked by the infamous national security bill over the past few weeks. The government has tried all methods to pass the bills, disregarding the constitution and international agreements Turkey is a signatory to. The new bill has been especially criticized for the legal impunity it supplies to the police and its declaring any citizen to be a potential criminal. A second bill has now been brought to the parliament floor, regarding prison guards.
The new prison bill’s 19 articles have already been passed without much debate or anyone really noticing. Since most members of the parliament are busy preparing for the election period, very few members take the time to study and evaluate the new bill. According to the new prison guards bill, guards will be allowed to use trained dogs, teargas (though it is prohibited from indoor use), pressurized water, and firearms against prisoners “if need be.”
The new bill is considered a declaration of war against prisoners and lawyers have expressed their concerns, recalling the massive deaths in prisons due to security operations that targeted prisons prior to AKP’s rule. The draconian bill on the parliament floor has implications that disregard the right to life and many other rights, especially combined with the isolation system in individual cells used in Turkish prisons, the scope of the bill can be considered very worrisome.
The official reason on the draft page states that the bill was written to “improve individuals who have shown social inadaptability.” The bill foresees the use of firearms, teargas, pressurized water, and trained dogs to assault prisoners in cases of revolt, resistance, escape, attempted escape or disturbances. One article in the bill also contains a special clause which will enable guards to use maximum measures in case of passive resistance from prisoners, and a warning message is not necessary for application of these measures.
When to use weapons in prisons?
Guards and “other security personnel” will be allowed to shoot prisoners if there is a tendency not to submit items which might be of use in case of resistance. Security forces will be allowed to use serial-shooting if there is attempt at assault on security forces. According to the bill, security forces may shoot a prisoner if he were to resist strip search or torture, or if the prisoner starts a hunger strike. One other clause concerns the surveillance cameras installed in prison cells. Prisoners break the cameras, which leave no “dark” spots, since they violate prisoners’ privacy. According to the new bill, guards will be allowed to use firearms if a prisoner breaks the camera in his cell.
Other measures in the bill vary from pressurized water, trained dogs to assault prisoners, and “powders” which remind one of chemical weapons. Not only does this bill allow security personnel to use several types of arms against unarmed prisoners, but also contains measures to guarantee impunity. The identities of armed-forces personnel who participate in such “interventions” against prisoners will be kept secret under the bill.
Remembering “Operation Return to Life” from 2000
The bill reminds one of an infamous operation in Turkish prisons in the year 2000, when 20 prisons were raided by armed forces, dozens were killed instantly, dozens of others were raped, and hundreds were left mortally wounded by chemical weapons. One victim of chemical powders described the feeling she experienced during the operation, saying “there was no fire, but we felt the flames under our skin.” Lawyers now refer to this as one of the darkest pages in the history of Turkish prisons and warn of the dangers and risks of having a bill that will allow even harsher treatment of prisoners.
More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com
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