International Platform Against Isolation:
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THIS PLATFORM?
The prisoners in Turkey started a period of action in the middle of 2000, in order to oppose the transition plan into isolation cells, which created a big sensibility in Turkey. In October 2000 the political prisoners in Turkey started a hunger strike. This resistance, which was later turned into a death fast, both created influence in the public and was supported by large sections of the people. For a certain period there was also support from Europe, the homeland of the isolation policy.
The isolation policy, which determined the agenda of Turkey and the Big Resistance (the ‘death fast’) created a certain consciousness about the effects of isolation on a person.
But in the same time this brought political instability for a Turkey, which was on its way to Europe.
The regime in Turkey also took support of European countries in the name of political stability and it started an attack against the political prisoners in 20 prisons, which ended in a massacre on 19th December 2000.
This military assault lasted exactly four days and happened before the eyes of the whole world. Finally, it ended on 22nd December with the ‘victory’ of the state.
The balance was frightening: 6 female prisoners at Bayrampasa prison were burned alive. There were killed in total 28 prisoners with bullets, in the fire, or by being beaten to death with truncheons.
Without exception, all political prisoners were tortured, hundreds of them were wounded and confronted with abuse or rape before their transfer to the new opened F-type isolation prisons.
This operation, that was realized in the name of prison reform of the EU, entered the history of prisons as an unforgetable massacre.
The families of thousands of political prisoners in Turkey faced this massacre attacks in the consciousness to get organized, under the danger to loose their children.
They had just a single force, which was their own force… The whole public was silenced for the sake of the EU plans. Even the press in Europe was silenced and also the limited solidarity movement began to return to their own area.
The isolation policy was practised in Europe for tens of years as a dimension of the annihilation policy against social and class movements. It almost came over the European left movements another time and the existing limited support was lost after a certain time.
WHAT WAS THE SITUATION OF THE LIFE AND RESISTANCE IN ‘MODERN CONCENTRATION CAMPS’ IN TURKE, NAMELY THE F-TYPES?
It was attempted to build a large screen of fog around the prisoner’s resistance, which were confronted with massacre, torture and rape. The whole press voluntary supported the policy of silence of the state. Neither the European states, who constantly speak about “democracy and human rights’, nor the European institutions, its press or the human rights organisations in Europe opposed the politics of massacres and the attempts to suffocate reality by censorship. They even attempted to silence those voices, who supported the resistance.
After the 19th-22nd December, the number of death fast resisters increased from around 100 before the massacre to around 1000.
The state spread around the propaganda that the resistance was over. It was propagized that the resistance was forced by the organisations and as the prisoners were now put into solitary confinement they were saved from the pressure of the organisations and as well the resistance was ended. In the same period, with the voluntary participation of doctors á la Mengele, there was started a force feeding torture on the resisters.
The families were excited, they tried to find out the situation of their children and relatives, and the friends and comrades of the prisoners tried to break the wall of censorship at risk of their lives. The uncertainties continued until 21st April, 2001. With the death of the first resister the silence was broken once again. Later on, the news of death cases from the prisons followed each other.
With the price of the death, the reality started to be reflected. In order to convince the public, that the resistance continued, tens of our people had to risk their life. They lost their lives, one after another.
A NEW DANGER…
The increase of the death cases became almost a matter of habit. The circles apart from the resisters, of those who died and their families, not only got used to it but they even started to ignore the resistance. The long-term of the resistance, the heavy price that had to be payed, created a psychology of defeat especially within European solidarity structures. And it was started to discuss on the senselessness of the resistance. Indeed, this psychology of defeat wasn’t valid for each circle.
For instance the support of Irish comrades, who own a honorable place within the history of resistance in the prisons and who continue with the tradition of resistance for more than 100 years, as well as the support of the revolutionaries from the Basque country and some groups, organisations and individual prisoners in the USA and Europe is a fact, that can’t be underestimated.
Despite of that, with its own pessimist view, the left in Europe and the USA, who wasn’t used to very long-term resistance started to believe, that the resistance won’t be able to succeed. It thought, that the isolation policy, that was successful in Europe and the USA, would also be able to break the resistance of hte revolutionary prisoners in Turkey.
The fact, that the resistance of the prisoners also handed over to their comrades, friends and their families, the agenda was filled with death news both from inside and outside the prisons. The state wasn’t able to break the resistance with massacres or censorship. It used one of its final weapons, the greatest corruption policy that can be used against a prisoner: The majority of prisoners in resistance was started to be released. The fact, that the released prisoners continued their resistance outside, together with their families, transported it practically outside the jails. Especially the supportive resistance in the Istanbul’s neighbourhood Kücükarmutlu, turned out to a center of attraction.
As a result of the death cases starting outside, the state carried out a massacre attack towards the neighbourhood in order to silence this resistance. Finally, the prisoners started to resist and sacrify themselves for those outside, just as those outside did for the prisoners. Half of the people, who lost their lives in the resistance against F-type prisons (122), were outside.
RESISTANCE IS BANNED, AS WELL AS SOLIDARITY …
The state released new laws in order to ban the resistance and the hunger strike in the prisons. Not enough, it even banned the support of the resistance. Additionally it has legalized the force feeding torture. And finally it even banned any news in relation to the resistance. These laws are still in practise today.
THERE’S NOT A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE REST OF THE WORLD
The isolation and insensibility towards the resistance in Turkish prisons, is actually not different in the other parts of the world. In the past, the prisoner’s question was a point of sensibility in each country. The solidarity with political prisoners and their resistance has lost sensibility. This happened especially parallel with the leftist movements’ loss of influence within the political arena in Europe. In the past, the prisoner’s thematic was always part of the important questions within activities, organized by circles including the alternative left on national and international level. But, especially in the lsat years, the question of prisoners aren’t even handled at such activities. This situation even concerns activities of Communist parties, anarchists, trotskists and even circles like the anti-globalists.
Even during actitivities like the Social Forum, on which hundreds of plenaries, seminaries and workshops are held, the political prisoners’ question doesn’t fill the agenda. Finally, with the efforts of our platform there could be organized a single seminary on political prisoners on the 3rd ESF.
The most of the prisoners’ solidarity groups were organized on national level. But their activities as well became very rare with the time. This is also result of the reduced number of political prisoners in many countries. But what really was determining; is that the situation and the isolation of the prisoners has become matter of habit. Though, if there’s a single political prisoner in a country, it is even one too much. If there’s a single political prisoner, this means, that there exist rights violations, unlawfulness, rob of democratic rights. Above it, we live in a period, in which the probability of political captivity is growing in many countries, in which basic rights and freedoms are more extensive, in which there’s need for a bigger sensibility to this question.
The principle which says “A societal movement which doesn’t support its prisoners is condemned to loose”, is indicating more urgency than ever. Especially the attacks, which were developed worldwide against basic rights and freedoms after the 11th of September, have made political captivity to a more societal problem. While the people of all democractic organisations have become more or less potentially political prisoners, there’s no real sensibility on this question.
The extensive isolation practice towards the political prisoners in Turkey is not a single case. The successs of the isolation policy in Turkey is reflecting to the whole world. On one hand the same practises are multiplied in Russia, Chile, Israel, Peru and other countries, on the other hand isolation and annihilation take concrete forms with prisons like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and unknown secret prisons in several countries.
Nobody should believe, that the F-types are only directed against revolutionaries in Turkey, or that Guantanamos just target religious people in Afghanistan. That would be a historical error. Both the F-type prisons and Guantanamos have their roots. Isolation, which was systematically used with the Nazi-camps and the policy to break ideas under isolation have been the most important steps to break the resistance in many countries. The Control Units in the USA, the QHS in France the F.I.E.S. in Spain, Stammheim in Germany, the white torture cells in Italy, the H-Blocks in England, the tiger cages in Vietnam, the Island prisons in South Africa and the subsurface prisons in Peru, which are mainly used since the ’70s, aren’t independent from the isolation complexes today.
TODAY, THE ORGANISATION ON INTERNATIONAL LEVEL IS MORE NECESSARY THAN EVER
Today, the prison question is not a national but an international problem. And the isolation politics towards the prisons have turned to a global attack. Imperialism applies its isolation policy very conscious and planful, in order to destroy the worldwide resistance and the resistance ideal.
The attack is global, this is what the resistance should be. The problem concerns all countries, the need for organizing against this problem should also cover all countries. The need for organisation should not only include solidarity organisations, but also the prisoners and their family organisations.
IPAI wants to put steps towards an organisation, that gives an answer to this need. With this purpose, there was started an activity, which has become yearly tradition and goes on since December 2002.
The first International Symposium against Isolation, which was organized in Holland in December 2002 has proven, that the human, juridical, medical and political dimension of isolation, which is used against all political prisoners in the world, is more or less the same in every place. During that symposium, tens of political prisoners - from the USA to Germany- have followed an appeal of the platform and organized a common hunger strike.
During that first symposium, the days from 19th-22nd Decmeber, which are the dates of the prison massacre in Turkey, were announced as International Days of Struggle against Isolation and it was aimed to raise the struggle against isolation during these days, every year.
With the second symposium, which was organized in December 2003 in Florence, there were put some further steps towards an international organisation between international prisoners and prisoners’ families. Principally, it was decided, that family organisations from Turkey, the Basque country, from Palestine, Iraq and Ireland, where the prison question today is most burning, will act together.
In the frame of the second symposium, hundreds of prisoners in Turkey, the Cuban 5, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the prisoners of Maghaberry in Northern Ireland and anarchists, environmental, political prisoners from several countries joined the international hunger strike and put an important step towards the international prisoners’ organisation.
It was also decided during the symposium in Florence to create a communication line between the prisoners. With the aim to solve the problem of language among the prisoners by a project called ‘Ourselves behind the walls’, IPAI accepted the task to translate and forward letters of prisoner. In this frame, it was attempted to create a certain relation network by translating hundreds of letters from prisoners of Turkey, Germany, Italy, Basque country, USA and Ireland.
This work will be continued with more progressed aims. This project is also an initiative, that could be moblizing for prisoners’ organisations on international level.
THE 3rd SYMPOSIUM AND NEW AIMS
The third symposium, which took place from 15th-18th December in Berlin, also included former prisoners, prisoners’ families and organisations, solidarity movements and sensible jurists, medicals, journalists, individuals and institutions. But as it was mentioned already during the second symposium, the isolation problem is not just limited with the prisoners. Using solitary confinement against prisoners, black lists against organisations and occupation, war and embargo against countries, it is attempted to transform the world to a rose garden without thorns, without resistance in severe isolation conditions. It is not just aimed to break the prisoners, but to create a world, in which oppositional thoughts, alternative views do not exist any more, where even addiction to resistance is destroyed.
So, the third symposium was organized under the slogan “Isolation has got many faces”, and the intention was an international network to oppose this global practise of isolation. With the same aim we organized two other symposiums and put some steps forward.
Our close aims;
creating a Prisoners’ Family and Support Organisation and a Prisoner’s Organisation, which can act together on international level. With this aim, we want to put into life a common press organ in different languages.
Our first step was to create a website www.ipai-isolation.info in order to meet this needs. This website was created after the fifth symposium in Athens (December 2006), though there already existed another website before (http://www.freecaptive.org, www.ozgurtutsak.org).
This website should on one hand enable the communication of prisoners all over the world to each other and serve as a window to the world, and it should be as well a space to exhibite their publications and handworks. The website should announce and coordinate all international activities in relation with the prisoners, and thereby isolation should be removed practically. The isolation practise on prisoners, who are separated from the world and from each other will be ineffective.
Furthermore, the aim to destroy societal production by imprisonment will become ineffective by sharing the prisoners’ products with the world. As a means of production and against capitulation within the cells, the political prisoners, the prisoners create paintings, drawings, caricatures, poems, articles and different handworks. Our prisoners who produce such a wealth, still carry a tradition of resistance to the outside and create life and dynamic. We should share these products with the whole world. We believe that this is a way to overcome isolation and captivity at least partial.
LET’S KEEP IN MIND;
Though the reistance in Turkey could achieve a big victory after 7 years and death fast was interrupted on 22nd Januar 2007, the isolation policy and the resistance still continues…
In Europe and the USA the societal products of the prisoners are still prevented, it is attempted to isolate them from each other and the world.
Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib still continue to prey on the conscience of the world.
Organisations are isolated with demagogies on terror and blacklisted, the restriction of basic rights and freedoms still continues.
The politics of war and occupation towards Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq still continue.
National identity and the international law are still violated.
The embargo towards Cuba still goes on.
The construction of the wall in Palestine is still continuing.
The USA has started a war against the whole world, being supported by the EU.
The list above is a part of it and they try to prevent us from recognizing all that.
Further, they try to enlarge that list with the Big Middle East Project and thier politics towards Philippines and Colombia.
We do not ask any more, if there’s a need of an international organisation against this policy.
We support a structure, which all forces who oppose the politics listed above.
Our platform is not an ideological unity platform. Indeed we’ll have certain principles.
WHICH ARE OUR PRINCIPLES?
We are anti-fascists, anti-imperialists, we are against rascism, discrimination, against zionism and anti-semitism, we are against war, occupation and embargos, we are against isolation, torture, force feedings, we oppose the massacres against peoples, against attacks towards their national souvereignty, against the violations of the right on democratic organisation and basic rights and freedoms, we are against globalization and global slavery.