13 Prisoners die in blaze in Turkey's
Kurdish region after protesting at poor conditions
June 18, 2012
URFA, The Kurdish
region of Turkey, Thirteen prisoners were killed
in a blaze that broke out in a jail in the Kurdish
region in southeast Turkey overnight on Sunday as
inmates set fire to their bedding in a dispute
reportedly linked to poor conditions.
The blaze, at a jail housing more than 1,000
prisoners in Sanliurfa province, occurred after a
row broke out in a dormitory yesterday evening,
provincial governor Celalettin Guvenc told
According to reports by Turkish sources, the fire
which was reportedly started by political prisoners
wasnt intervened by guardians and soldiers for a
long time, causing the death of 13 political
prisoners and injury of five others, two of whom got
serious burnt. ANF news reported.
Police surrounding the prison fired tear gas and
water cannon at relatives of inmates who had rushed
there on hearing news of the fire. Some of the crowd
threw stones at the security forces and banged on
the prison gates, Dogan news agency reported.
Local media reports said the prisoners set fire to
their bedding in a protest at prison conditions but
the governor denied there was any mutiny after
inspecting the jail with prosecutors, military
officials and the police chief.
"They set fire to the dormitory and unfortunately 13
of the 18 people held there lost their lives," Mr
Guvenc said. "There was absolutely no confrontation
with the guards or soldiers. This has nothing to do
with political prisoners."
Firefighters extinguished the blaze after about 90
minutes. Five surviving inmates sought refuge in a
toilet and were later taken to hospital suffering
from smoke inhalation.
Dogan said the dormitories were designed for 8
people but that 18 people were staying in them,www.ekurd.net
with some having to sleep on the floor. Prison
capacity was around 350, but that 1,057 inmates were
held at the jail, it said.
In a statement after the incident, the Governor of
Urfa announced the names of casualties which are;
Şükrü Uldes, Fuat Yıldız, Sinan Özalp, Mehmet Satış,
Süphi Köksal, Yunus Eskili, Mehmet Emin Gerçek,
Hüseyin Kıskaç, Mehmet Kemal Kılıç, Taner Şimşek,
Bakır Tek, Mehmet Aslantay, İbrahim Halil Kaya.
Ibrahim Ayhan, a member of parliament from the
pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was
among the inmates at the prison but was not believed
to have been hurt.
Mr Ayhan was detained 20 months ago as part of a
nationwide investigation into links between Kurdish
activists and militants from the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK).
Media reports said several protests at conditions
had occurred at the prison in recent years, usually
involving political prisoners including PKK members.
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with terrorists.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been
fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the
constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a
Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous
and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who
constitute the greatest minority in Turkey,
numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees,
lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the
way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within
Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against
the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara and U.S. The PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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