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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
'No compromise' to Turkey prisoners
A soldier looks at smoke rising from Buca prison in Izmir, Turkey,
The hunger strikers reject changes to the prison system
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Jonny Dymond
BBC Istanbul correspondent
line

The Turkish Minister of Justice, Sami Turk, has said that there will be no compromise with prisoners on hunger strike.

Fifty people - mainly prisoners plus some of their supporters - starved themselves to death in Turkey's one-and-a-half-year-long hunger strike.

The 50th victim died late on Sunday.

The hunger strikers are protesting over new prisons which they say would isolate them from their comrades.

The Justice Minister's uncompromising message came on the same day that the 50th victim of the world's longest hunger strike was buried.

Mr Turk said that the new prisons, known as F types, are state policy and that would not change.

The hunger strikers are members of small left-wing groups the Turkish government accuses of terrorism.

'Develop identity'

They say the F types would, by isolating them from their colleagues, leave them open to either torture or to long spells of solitary confinement.

But Mr Turk rejected that.

He said that the old prisons with communal dormitories had become "training camps" for the left-wing groups; that the new prisons conformed with UN and Council of Europe guidelines and that, far from crushing the prisoners, the F types would allow them to develop their identity away from the ideological constraints of their colleagues.

Mr Turk's comments will come as a severe blow to the team trying to negotiate between the government and the hunger strikers.

They had thought that some compromise might be in the air.

But Mr Turk went out of his way to reject one of the compromises that the hunger strikers had agreed to - he said it was just a ploy to keep the protests alive.

See also:

09 Feb 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Turkey's soul searching
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Shadow hangs over Turkish jails
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