right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken
TO IRISH TIMES
Your report on the address by the Turkish Ambassador, Mr Gunaltay Sibay, to the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee (Irish Times, November 8th) quotes the Ambassador defending Turkey's human rights record.
The members of the committee are to be congratulated for highlighting the issue of Turkey's human rights abuses, and the ongoing prison hunger strikes, as that state attempts to join the EU.
Mr Sibay's comments ring hollow in the light of this weeks report from Amnesty International which "calls for an immediate end to the country's endemic torture. Amnesty said the widespread nature of it puts nearly anyone at risk. The human rights group rejected assurances from the authorities that they were tackling the problem. It said detainees in Turkey were routinely blindfolded during interrogations, and some throughout detention, to prevent the identification of their torturers. Amnesty said beatings, sexual abuse, death and rape threats were all common methods of torture."
In addition, the number of deaths in the 13 month long protest against isolation prisons is now nearing the 100 mark. Twenty eight prisoners were killed in military attacks on the prisons in December 2000 and forty one have died on hunger strike since then. Last week's police attack on hunger strike supporters in the Armutlu shanty town in the Istanbul resulted in five deaths, two of whom were hunger strikers. Eyewitnesses described the police as "spraying the area with gunfire and killing at will". Dozens of people were injured. Two hunger striking prisoners died later, having set themselves alight in protest at the attack.The attempt by Mr Sibay to whitewash Turkey will not work in the light of the increasing concern in Ireland at that country's abysmal human rights record.
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