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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 13:08 GMT
Outcry over Turkey child arrests
Canakkale prison, Turkey
Turkey's prisons have come under criticism
By Chris Morris in Istanbul

A human rights group in Turkey has demanded the release of 29 children who have been arrested and charged with supporting the illegal Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


The children - aged between nine and 16 - were taken into custody after demonstrating in support of the PKK in the south-eastern town of Viransehir on Tuesday.

They are said to have shouted pro-PKK slogans in the street.

Turkey's human rights association said the children were detained late at night, handcuffed and taken away in armoured cars.

Mistreatment alleged

There have also been allegations from family members that the children have been mistreated while in detention.

They are now being held in Viransehir prison.

The only child to be released was just seven years old.

Mother of a hunger striker
Relatives say prisoners have been beaten and tortured

While the government says it's determined to improve the country's much-criticised human rights record and has introduced tougher penalties for torture in custody, local security officers routinely interpret the law in the strictest possible manner.

Human rights activists are now calling for an official investigation into this incident and for more far reaching reforms which would ensure that children shouting slogans in the street would not be arrested by the police.

Turkey quelled a nationwide prison revolt less than a month by storming 20 prisons across the country. At least two dozen people died in the ensuing battles.

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10 Jan 01 | Europe
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18 Aug 00 | Europe
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