Turkey: Children Political Prisoners
Recently, hundreds of children were taken into custody, tortured and arrested in Diyarbakır, Adana and İstanbul. There are more “political prisoners” in Turkish prisons than ever before. The trial of children became possible with the revision in the Law Against Terror in 2006. So, it became possible to punish the children in Turkey because of their crimes of “terror” as if they were adults. In Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia, 1572 children were put on trial between 2006-2007, because of the Law Against Terror and Turkish Penal Law. 174 children were arrested and 92 of them were from Diyarbakır.
What were the crimes of those children? Participating in demonstrations and throwing stones at the police! But why are those children throwing stones at the police? What are their problems? These children are subjected to oppression, cruelty and exploitation. Their right to education and health was abrogated. Their fathers and mothers are unemployed. Children will either submit or find their own ways to survive, including a revolt against living this way. In so doing they are choosing the best way. Of course they will take part in their country’s struggle and of course they will face oppression with their stones.
Can our children be accused because they do not want to live such a life? Of course not. They are not the guilty ones. The only guilty party is the system which dooms them to live in poverty. But the unjust legal system imprisons our children for dozens of years.
In Diyarbakır, 4 children between ages 15 and 17 were arrested in July 14, 2008 because they threw stones at the police after the press declaration of DTP (Democratic Society Party). They were charged with crimes that could have resulted in 23 years imprisonment, but “only” received imprisonment for 6 years 11 months each.
In Adana, 13 children between ages 13-17 received a total of 112 years 10 days imprisonment in April 28, 2009 by the High Criminal Court of Adana. Only one child was found with a weapon, a sling and 9 marbles.
In this country the children are punished more heavily than the torturer policemen. In our country the children are tortured, punished as they were adults and they are subjected to isolation in high security prisons. Is it possible to talk about justice in such a country which fills its prisons with children?
Younger than 18, but in Isolation
The Turkish Chamber of Doctors (TCD) carried out research about children between ages 13 and 18 who are imprisoned and being judged under the scope of Law Against Terror (LAT) in Diyarbakır E-Type Closed Prison. According to this report which was made public in June 6, it is stated that there are 80 children prisoners and 24 of them are under the scope of LAT. The report says that the living conditions of children are extremely bad, that they only have 3 square meters of living space per person and that they are experiencing serious health problems. The children are subjected to curses, insults, beating, tightening of the handcuffs, and malnutrition. They are also not allowed to sleep, not allowed to go the toilet and to see their parents. 65-75 percent of the children are having psychological problems. Although they declared that they are tortured in custody, their declaration is not recorded.
The children have problems of malnutrition and of an unbalanced diet. Forced labour is very widespread and the children are not given enough water for their laundry and bath. The toilets and the washbasins are dirty. The dorms are airless and they have very small windows which do not allow sunlight. They do not have any sport areas.
A permanently employed doctor does not exist in the prisons. There are no dentists. Although it is illegal to sell medicine to the kids, the prison administration sells it nevertheless.
Strict isolation is imposed on children in prisons. They are subjected to torture, sexual harassment, hunger and are not allowed to see their parents. The own words of the children in the report clearly show the state’s viewpoint in terms of the children:
“. . . The police hit my head with the butt of his gone. My head was sutured. I went in front of the judge with my bloody dresses. . .”
“. . . In the children department there was a police hitting me with his knee. Also towards my abdominal cavity with his hand. He did this to me and to other children. . .”
“. . . I was taken from my work. They let me into a private car. . . I was handcuffed from the back. They filled my mouth with soil and beat me with clubs. . . One police came in and said that my father had a heart attack.”
“. . . We were taken in from the back door. My hair was torn out and I was hit towards the wall. I was beaten ten or fifteen times with the clubs similar to baseball clubs. Generally on my back, feet and shanks. They hit to my sexual organs with their hands. . . The public prosecutor came. He asked me if I have any complaints, I said “Yes, I have”. He answered “If I did what you did, they beat me too. . .”
“. . . I am arrested for fourteen fifteen months. I have nine siblings. I used to work in construction sites. No lawyer visits. I don’t know how much longer I will be here. . .”
“. . . I told that I have beaten to doctor. My head was aching and swollen. There were red marks in my back. I said the police beat me. Doctor said that “the police are angels”.
“. . . They do not take me to doctor. The policeman himself filled the document and the doctor signed it: No traces of being beaten. They did not look to my body. . .”
“. . . The doctor asked if there were any beatings or traces. I said “Isn’t it obvious?”. Policeman showed his gun. I remained silent.”
“. . . I am in prison for two months. I feel sick even if I see the policemen on TV. I cannot even repeat the insults that they say. One cannot bear it.”
“. . . My biggest dream is being free. Everybody outside is not free also. I want to go out and win my freedom. . .”
Doing such kinds of things to children is a violation of human rights. In fascist systems the tendency is to rule over people through torture and repression without regard to whether they are young or old. Respect for the individual does not exist in the morality, culture and politics of Fascism.
It is the AKP government that is responsible for such tortures, isolation and all other inhuman treatments. When the people of Diyarbakır carried out a democratic demonstration, the Prime Minister Erdogan said that “our security forces will do what is needed even if they are women or children.” The gendarmerie, the police and the guards of the state are doing “what is needed” according to Erdogan’s wishes. A state which tortures and harasses its children! Is it your understanding of governing?
Such oppression towards the children was mentioned in the courts, many times. But nothing was done for the people who were responsible of it. Plus, the arrest, punishment and the torture of children went on uninterruptedly.
As long as exploitation, cruelty and torture continue in this country, our children have the right to take any action, including throwing stones. The continuation of such an oligarchic order means the continuation of the torture and cruelty. Therefore, everybody have the legitimate right to struggle against this order.
In 23 of April 2009, an anti-terror police attacked and beat one of our children to death, the policeman was not punished:
This is the link to the report of Turkish Chamber of Doctors, unfortunately it is in Turkish:
In 2008, a policeman broke the arm of a Kurdish child in front of the cameras during the Kurdish festival Newroz:
This is the link to the journal Yuruyus: