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Cablegate: Leftist Prisoners' Rights Group Overruns Ankara Ap

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
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DE RUEHAK #6469/01 3251458
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211458Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0015
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 006469

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: LEFTIST PRISONERS' RIGHTS GROUP OVERRUNS ANKARA AP
OFFICE


1.(SBU) Summary: Far-left prisoners' rights group TAYAD
raided Associated Press's Ankara office on November 20, in
order to bring media exposure to the GOT's increasing use
of modern "F-type" prisons (prisons with 1-3 person cells,
vice the older communal wards) since 2000. The group hung
banners and shouted slogans to bring attention to an issue
that has lost the media and public's attention. Although
no one was harmed when the police raided the office and
detained the protesters, the incident shows the drastic
measures such marginalized groups will take to promote
their cause. The GOT is likely to apply a strong
punishment to deter future demonstrations. At AP's
request, the Embassy has offered to share information on
preventive security measure AP can take to counteract
further such incidents. End summary.

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Activists Seize AP's Ankara Office
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2.(SBU) At 10 a.m. on November 20, three "sweet old people"
came to AP's Ankara office and requested to speak to an AP
representative, according to AP's Ankara Office Chief Suzan
Fraser. Once the doors were opened, Fraser told us,
29 members of the far left prisoners' rights group
Association for Inmates' Families' Solidarity (TAYAD)
entered and said they wanted to protest against the use of
F-type prisons heard.

3.(SBU) During the next hour, the TAYAD members held Fraser
and three other employees captive, while they unfurled
banners from the fourth-floor office that read "No to
Solitary Confinement" and "122 People Died in F-type
Prisons", and chanted slogans through a megaphone. Human
Rights Association President Yusuf Alatas arrived at the
office shortly after the occupation. Alatas told us that
an AP employee called him and asked for his help in ending
the protest without violence.

4.(SBU) As Turkish Police surrounded the office building,
Alatas unsuccessfully tried to convince the TAYAD members
to end the occupation. Alatas told us that he called the
police and asked that they "not use force." He explained
that the TAYAD members did not have weapons and were not
threatening anyone. Fraser and Alatas told us that once
TAYAD believed a police operation was imminent, they took
AP employees, Alatas, and computer equipment into a back
room.

5.(SBU) At approximately 11 a.m., Turkish police fired tear
gas into the office, broke down the doors, and detained the
29 protesters. Neither Alatas nor the AP employees were
harmed. Although Alatas claimed that the police beat the
protesters as they took them into custody, a police
spokesperson denied any beating occurred.

--------------------------------------------- --------
EU's Praise of F-Type Prisons Marginalizes Opposition
Groups
--------------------------------------------- --------


6.(U) TAYAD has protested the use of F-type prisons, where
convicts are held in one to three-person cells, since the
GOT introduced them in 2000 to replace the old system of
large, crowded wards where prisoners lived communally.
According to TAYAD, other prisoners' rights groups, and
individual prisoners who have staged hunger strikes in
protest against F-type prisons, the arrangement allegedly
leaves inmates socially isolated and renders them more
vulnerable to mistreatment from prison guards. The GOT
states that the old ward system was at the core of frequent
riots and hostage taking incidents, and allowed
ultra-leftist inmates to coordinate activities.

7.(SBU) The EU has stated that the introduction of F-type
prisons was an important advance for prison reform in
Turkey. Dr. Shane Bryans, the EU Council's long-term
resident expert advisor on Turkish prisons told us that the
EU commends the creation of smaller living units for
prisoners as a critical component in a new system that is

ANKARA 00006469 002 OF 002


closer to EU standards. Bryans believes that the violent
protests that occurred when F-type prisons were introduced
were due to a misunderstanding of modern prison management
techniques.

8. (U) As the EU and prison experts praised GOT advances in
prison management, and the public learned about the
security and human rights benefits of F-type prisons,
Bryans told us, protests dwindled and media interest
waned. The TAYAD members told Fraser that they wanted
television coverage of their November 20 protest against
the GOT's use of F-type prisons because the media had been
censoring the issue. During the occupation, the group told
Fraser they did not single out AP for any particular
reason, stating, "We thought about going to Reuters but we
heard they didn't have an office in Ankara."

9. (SBU) Comment: TAYAD's occupation of the Ankara AP
office shows the group's frustration with the difficulty of
keeping the
F-type prison controversy in the public view. Given the
EU's position that F-type prisons are a vast improvement
over older-model prisons, TAYAD's stunt is unlikely to
breathe
new life into its position. Although this incident did not
involve weapons or lead to injuries, the GOT is likely to
apply a strong punishment to deter future desperate acts of
a similar nature. At Fraser's request, the Embassy has
offered share information on preventive security measures
AP can take to counteract further such incidents. End
comment.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON

© Scoop Media

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