Turkey: Political prisoner died after 297 days on hunger strike demanding a fair trial

In the first hours of April 24, 2020, political prisoner Mustafa Koçak, who has been on a hunger strike till death (Death fast) since July 3, 2019, or for 297 days, demanding a fair trial, has died without the fascist government taking any steps to accept his demand for justice.

How the events developed until now?

At the end of September 2017, while walking in Istanbul, Mustafa Koçak was arrested by agents of the political police. He was taken to the headquarters of the political police in Istanbul, where he was subjected to all kinds of torture for 12 days. For almost 2 weeks, Mustafa’s head was placed on a sack, flooded with ice-cold water, a fan was launched against him while he was in wet clothes, and a metal bucket was placed on his head, and police agents were hitting on it for hours, insults, the swearing, the threats, and the beating are just a complement to the whole series of inquisitions. Agents of the political police threaten to rape Mustafa’s pregnant sister, as well as his other sisters.

All of these tortures were exercised on Mustafa Koçak for the sole purpose to force him to accept to become a “protected witness” and to gave false testimonies against dozens, hundreds of people that he has never even seen. Mustafa flatly refuses to accept this humiliating proposal. The police agents tell him they will put him in prison and he will spend his whole life there, yet they fail to break his will.

After being jailed, Mustafa Koçak and a dozen others are indicted in the murder case of prosecutor Mehmed Selim Kiraz. On March 31, 2015, Prosecutor Kiraz was taken hostage in his office at Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse by two revolutionaries, Şafak Yayla and Bahtiyar Doğruyol. The two revolutionaries have asked the authorities to publicly announce the names of the police officers who caused the death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, a participant in the protests about Gezi Park since the summer of 2013, the youth died after 269 days in a coma without regaining consciousness. The authorities then chose to kill the two revolutionaries and prosecutor Kiraz instead of announcing the names of the police officers who killed Berkin.

Mustafa Koçak, as well as the other defendants in the case, were indicted for complicity in the murder of Prosecutor Mehmet Kiraz, without any evidence of their guilt or complicity in the act. All of the charges against Mustafa Koçak and the other defendants in the case were based solely on the “testimonies” given by “protected witnesses” Berk Ercan and Cavit Yilmaz.

Last year, after leaving Turkey and reaching Germany, Cavit Yilmaz made statements to Turkish opposition TV channel saying that he had given “testimonies” under the pressure of torture, threats, physical and mental harassment by agents of Turkish intelligence and political police, who had met him several times in prison, though he refused. He also said he was threatened that his fiancé would be raped if he refused to cooperate and become an informant.

Following these statements made to the media, through his lawyers in Turkey, Cavit Yilmaz applied with the Istanbul criminal court to hear the case against Mustafa Koçak and the other defendants. In his application, he stated that he was withdrawing his testimonies, which had been obtained through torture and harassment.

In July 2019, the Istanbul court completely ignored the allegations made and violated all legal rules and moral values and have sentenced Mustafa Koçak to life imprisonment under the strict regime and another 45 years in prison on various charges against him. The specific allegation against Mustafa was that he provided the weapons used in the taking hostage of prosecutor Mehmet Kiraz, an act he did not commit, and for which there was no evidence to prove that he was involved in the preparation of the attack.

The other defendants in the case also received extremely severe sentences, again with no evidence against them.

Just days before the final court hearing, Mustafa Koçak announced that he began an indefinite hunger strike, demanding a new fair trial against him and all the accused in the case, the date was July 3, 2019.

Mother, father, sisters did not leave him alone in the struggle for justice…

A few weeks after the hunger strike was announced, the first protests in support of Mustafa Koçak’s demands began. Mustafa’s mother and father – Zeynep and Hasan Koçak – take first to the squares and streets.

On the 90th day of the indefinite hunger strike, in an open letter, Mustafa Koçak announced that he was turning his hunger strike into a Death Fast(Hunger strike till death), determined to continue it until his demands were accepted or until he dies. So he did what does he wrote…

Almost every day since their son started his hunger march for justice, Mustafa’s parents and comrades have been on the streets and squares in Turkey and Europe. For months, as he slowly melted in the name of justice, various actions were held to support his demands. Many people from Turkey, Europe, Russia, Latin America, the United States, Australia, and Asia have expressed their solidarity with Mustafa Koçak’s struggle. Mass hunger strikes by members and supporters of the Popular Front in Turkey and Europe have also taken place in recent months. Members of the revolutionary movement tried in every possible way to draw the public’s attention to Mustafa’s case.

The struggle for justice was also supported by almost all leftist and progressive organizations in Turkey, including the Kurdish movement. Many intellectuals and people of art have also appealed to the government to accept Mustafa’s demand – a fair trial.

Who was Mustafa Koçak?

He was a child of these people, he was poor… Apart from his labor and honor, he does not have anything other… Maybe these two sentences are enough to summarize Mustafa’s short life. But…

Before being imprisoned, Mustafa Koçak tried to earn money for himself and his family by selling sandwiches in a hand cart on the streets of Istanbul, he was a street vendor. He has participated in the activities of the Gençlik Federasyonu(Youth Federation), the youth organization of the Marxist-Leninist movement People’s Front – Turkey. He has participated in various demonstrations in defense of the democratic rights and freedoms of the people, against attacks of the fascist oligarchy in Turkey.

In the last 10 months of his life, he has been fighting for justice. He said “I am willing to suffer all the pain so that no one will suffer injustice again.”

He walked on his own Via Dolorosa, he was crucified, he martyred…

Resistance in pain, anguish, and suffering…

Mustafa’s health deteriorated week after week, melting cell by cell. But his condition worsened greatly after he was forcibly taken from his cell on March, 12, 2020 at the Şakran isolation Prison, located near the Izmir’s suburb Aliaga. Prison guards and gendarmes take him to the hospital of the Şakran Prison complex, where he has been subjected to brutal torture and dozens of attempts of forced medical interventions for 5 days.
For 5 days, Mustafa Koçak was subjected to all kinds of torture. 73 bottles of serum were used in attempts to undergo a forced medical intervention.

Mustafa broke each of these bottles of serum, with his teeth and nails he tore the needles of the serum systems that were attached to his body. After the veins in his arms were nearly torn apart, the fascist executioners began stabbing the needles at his feet.

As a result of this torture, Mustafa could no longer walk. From the pain that he suffered he was exhausted day after day.

In his last telephone conversation with his relatives, held yesterday, he stated that he had severe breathing difficulties, had severe swelling of the legs, arms, and abdomen, could not sleep, or turn in bed.

His last days went in pain and suffering, but he did not give up, he did not say that he wanted to stop the Death Fast.

At 3:47 a.m. on April 24, 2020, Mustafa Koçak’s lawyers reported by phone to his family that he had martyred in prison. He was given 2 hours for his relatives to go to forensic medicine and take the body.

The fascist oligarchy in Turkey killed Mustafa Koçak

The fascist government, until the last possible moment, refused to take any action to accept Mustafa’s demand- a fair trial. Also, his relatives demanded that he be released because of his deteriorated health. All the requests made by his lawyers, all the emails from his relatives, the people supporting his struggle were completely neglected by the oligarchy and its government. At a meeting held on 28 March 2020 at the Turkish Interior Ministry, representatives of the ministry told a delegation of human rights defenders and intellectuals that Mustafa should first end the hunger strike, and only after that, the ministry would decide whether it could consider his demands. But it is no secret that even if he did that, the fascist government would not consider the demands.

According to the latest information we have at the moment, the political police are trying to prevent Mustafa’s relatives from taking the body to Istanbul, where he grew up. People’s Front – Turkey has called on its members and supporters to gather at the Alevite House of Worship in Istanbul’s Gazi neighborhood to participate in his funeral. No other details are available for now.

Another question for everyone…

Ladies and gentlemen “nerds”, to our great regret, once again I ask you the question, what did you do during those 297 days while Mustafa Koçak’s body melted cell after cell?

Naturally, you again came up with your arguments “do not support hunger strikes”, “die in vain”, “the state does not care” “they will just die” and so on the “wisdom” that was written. And of course the point of all this is a deep silence.

Apart from the fascist oligarchy in Turkey, its imperialist masters, without whose permission the rulers of Ankara, cannot take even a sip of air, the informants and whistleblowers become puppets in their hands, and the executioners who brutally tortured Mustafa, and you ladies and gentlemen, you also bear the blame for his death!

Not that this is not an attempt to conceal my responsibility, I, the author of these lines, also feels guilty that I did not do everything in my power to make Mustafa’s demands public. But I can say that at least I did not act like you, did not remain silent, did not allow myself to ignore his call.

I ask you ladies and gentlemen, who guarantee that tomorrow and in your country, there will be no such case as Mustafa’s? Would you say this could not happen?

Don’t you also learn from history? If you do not remember, or have forgotten very well, the history of the struggles in your countries, then unfold the old books and read.

And remember, fascism in one country not only harms the workers in it but also all the workers in the world.

Author:  New Solution editor in chief

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