After their release, the co-chairs of the socialist youth association SGDF in Turkey, Okan Danacı and Yaren Tuncer, spoke about their experiences in prison and said that their fight would increased.


As many reports expose, prisons in Turkey are used as torture centers, especially for political prisoners. Discriminatory policies against ill prisoners, disciplinary sanctions and violence by guards continue to increase, while street protests are attacked by police.

Okan Danacı and Yaren Tuncer, co-chairs of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), were in prison for six months. They were arrested in March and have just been released. In this interview they spoke about rights violations in prisons and the current struggles of young people.

Security clearance for visits

Danacı said that there is a huge problem in Turkish prisons that needs to be analyzed and discussed, and that the violation of rights is particularly observed during visiting hours. He said: “There is real isolation in Turkish prisons. Visitors are subject to a security check. Many friends cannot come to the visit. People who have already been arrested or who are under investigation are turned away by the prison administration without any explanation.”

Difficult access to information sources

Among those arbitrarily arrested are students whose right to education is being taken away, said Danacı, adding: “There are frequent raids on the cells and there are restrictions on various items and books. There are requirements by which prisoners can’t have more than ten books, and in any case only certain books or clothes are allowed. At the same time, it is difficult to gain access to information sources such as radio and television. The costs of this are enormous. There are many more specific problems and obstacles for women.”

Isolation, oppression and intimidation

Danacı described the prison as a “situation of isolation, oppression and intimidation” and reported how another SGDF member who was arrested last May, was tried to be recruited as an informant by the police or MIT. “When he was told by unknown people that he had a visit with his lawyer he was met by some police officers. They pressured our friend to become a spy and offered him cooperation. That’s also part of the intimidation. These rights violations will be an important issue in our struggle in the near future.”

Young people cannot be oppressed

Since the elections in May, a sad mood has spread throughout society and the way out of this situation can only be achieved through struggle, said the SGDF chair, adding: “There is an atmosphere of frustration, which has arisen especially after the elections. One of our main tasks is to spread the struggle everywhere and to protest on the streets, in universities, on campuses. We must bring together young people in the fight for freedom and justice and we need to organize together. At the same time, there are always workers’ resistance and protests voicing various social demands. The Alevi community, for example, is protesting. High school students are protesting. Women are waging an autonomous struggle. Young people must also play their role in the struggle. We believe we will succeed. Our history shows us this. Young people cannot be silenced so easily. You can’t bring them under control.”

If you criticize the government, you risk going to prison

Yaren Tuncer said that “the AKP-MHP government puts everyone protesting or criticizing them in prison. Anyone who says something on the street or in an interview that the government doesn’t like will quickly find themselves in prison. Women are more affected by rights violations because prisons in Turkey are geared towards men.”

The SGDF chair spoke about her experience in prison and said that it was very difficult to get access to hygiene, personal care and cleaning products. “Products such as sanitary pads and tampons are often not available. Sanitary pads are only available in one variety, and the canteen sells sanitary pads with an expiration date of 2021. This situation has not changed, although we have repeatedly pointed it out and discussed it. The sale and purchase of tampons is not permitted and they are not considered appropriate in prison. At the same time, when you go to visit or exercise, you already have a limited right to exercise and you are constantly exposed to security guards’ comments about what you are wearing. Women are being spied on by cameras in their cells. They try to limit the prisoners’ world and exert constant control over them. For example, they do not accept colored hair clips, only black hair pins. These measures are very specifically directed against political prisoners. Because political prisoners have achieved their rights after years of struggle and at great cost, and now there are constant attempts to take away these rights and, in particular, to interfere with the way of life of women.”

Break the fascist alliance

Yaren Tuncer pointed out that from now on the struggle carried out by young people will increase, and underlined that the post-election disappointment can be overcome by taking to the streets and fighting. “We can reverse this process, this disappointment, by increasing the struggle on the streets, by trying to break this fascist alliance, by being aware that democracy, freedom, equality and justice are in the hands of the oppressed and that they can only be achieved with our organized strength.”


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