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Inmates 'beaten' in new Turkish jails

ANKARA, Turkey -- Human rights group Amnesty International has accused Turkish authorities of beating and torturing prisoners after moving them to new jails.

It made the accusations on Saturday, saying the incidents had taken place after the prisoners were moved to the new prisons with small cells.

The allegations come just weeks after Turkish security forces launched a crackdown on jails across the country to try to end hunger strikes by prisoners protesting against the plans to move them from large dormitories.

Amnesty International said it had spoken to doctors and lawyers who visited the new prisons as well as relatives of prisoners and three inmates who had now been released.

"These sources consistently indicate that the prisoners were beaten and some tortured before, during and after the transfers to the new prisons," Amnesty International said in a statement.

At least 30 prisoners and two police officers died in the raids. Authorities say the prisoners who died set themselves on fire rather than end their protest.

After the raids on 20 jails, authorities moved about 1,000 prisoners to new, so-called F-type prisons.

Crackdown defended

Meanwhile, a leftist group said it had carried out Wednesday's suicide bomb attack in response to the alleged violent repression of the prison protest.

The bomber and a policeman were killed in the attack on an Istanbul police station.

The government defended the prison crackdown and the transfers, saying it was necessary to regain control of the chaotic facilities and break the stranglehold of political groups accused by Turkey of using the jails as militant training camps.

But the protesters say they will be more vulnerable to abuse in the small cells where there are no witnesses to see how they are treated.

The Amnesty statement said: "It is alleged that prisoners were stripped and subjected to rape with a truncheon on arrival at Kandira F-type prison near Izmit, but the claims could not be corroborated because lawyers' requests for forensic examinations to be carried out received no response."

It also said a regime of solitary and small group isolation was being imposed in the new prisons and many prisoners had gone without human contact for days apart from roll-calls.

"Some prisoners in solitary isolation have not been seen by anyone from the outside world since mid-December," it added.

The head of Turkey's parliamentary Human Rights Commission has said he is satisfied human rights were not abused during the raids. A sub-commission has also been set up to investigate the prison crisis.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Inquiry into Turkish prison raids
January 4, 2001
Wounded Turkish prisoners 'beaten'
December 30, 2000
Turkish jail siege ends
December 22, 2000
Police break Turkish jail protest
December 21, 2000
Turkish jail protests spread across Europe
December 20, 2000

Turkish government sites
Amnesty International

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