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Hunger striking lawyer applies for release from Turkish jail

JAILED lawyer Ebru Timtik has applied for release from jail on medical grounds over fears for her life in Turkey.

Ms Timtik’s weight has plummeted after 140 days on hunger strike for the right to a fair trial.

Her legal team submitted the request to the Court of Cassation on Wednesday, warning of the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus in prisons.

They highlighted a weakened immune system and asked that Ms Timtik be freed under emergency provisions agreed by parliament last month, which saw a third of Turkey’s 300,000 prison population released.

“Prison conditions pose a life-threatening risk to my client due to the pandemic that we are currently in. Considering that her body has already thinned a lot and her immune system has completely collapsed, it will be highly difficult for her to recover from a possible disease,” the lawyer’s petition stated.

“Tomorrow might be too late. It is not possible to bring life back, and when there remains no chance to make amends for injustice, words will also be no longer meaningful.”

Ms Timtik is one of 19 lawyers jailed last year on trumped-up terrorism charges. They were accused of membership of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the Turkish state.

She received a sentence of 13 years and six months, but Turkish bar associations and political parties have hit out at the charges, which they said were based on flimsy evidence given by a state informant.

The 19 are members of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD), which has long been a target of the state.

It is estimated that about 1,500 lawyers have been prosecuted, and more than 200 have been imprisoned for up to 11 years since the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

Fellow lawyer Aytac Unsal, who has written a letter in today’s Morning Star, is also on hunger strike and has been without food for 109 days.

Hunger strikes are becoming a focus of resistance in Turkish prisons once more.

Last year about 7,000 prisoners are believed to have participated in fasts in protest at the treatment of jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Earlier this month Grup Yorum bass player Ibrahim Gokcek died after nearly a year without food.

His bandmate Helin Bolek died in April after 288 days on hunger strike. Mustafa Kocak also perished last month.

All three were accused of membership of the DHKP/C.

A petition has been launched supporting the demand for a fair trial. Supporters can send their name, job and location to savunmayaozgurluk@gmail.com.

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