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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Turkish hunger strike claims 40th life
Funeral of starved prisoner
Prisoners are starving themselves to death in protest
By Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia

Another hunger striker has died after starving himself in protest at controversial prison reforms in Turkey, bringing the total number of deaths among fasting inmates to 40.

Hundreds of prisoners have been refusing to take food since last October to try to force the government to abandon plans to transfer inmates to smaller cells.

Turkish cell
Prisoners are held in groups of two or three in the new cells

Thirty-one-year-old Mustafa Coskun died in hospital in Ankara.

Protestors and their supporters are opposed to the replacement of the current dormitory system of accommodation with individual cells.

They say that prisoners held singly or in groups of two or three will be vulnerable to assaults by the authorities and will be kept isolated from other inmates.

Government resolute

A year after the protests first began, the government says it will not be coerced into changing its policy.

It argues that the current dormitory system, with as many as 80 prisoners sleeping in one room, leads to anarchy and hostage taking and makes Turkey's prisons ungovernable.

Last month, four people were killed in the centre of Istanbul when a suicide bomber blew himself up in protest at the new-style prisons.

The far-left People's Liberation Party Front, one of the main groups involved in organising the hunger strikes, claimed responsibility.

While it is not possible to say exactly how many people are on hunger strike at any one time, the protests show no sign of abating.

See also:

15 Jul 01 | Europe
Turkey halts prison plans
18 Apr 01 | Europe
Turkey's radicals wait for death
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Shadow hangs over Turkish jails
09 Mar 00 | Middle East
EU urges Turkey to reform
26 Jan 00 | Europe
Analysis: Can Turkey fit in?
12 Jan 00 | Europe
Analysis: Turkey's Ocalan dilemma
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