Members of an association marching to Ankara from Istanbul to protest prison conditions were attacked by another group near the northwestern province of Bolu on Saturday.
Members of the Prisoners’ Families Solidarity Association, or TAYAD, started to march from Istanbul to Ankara on Friday to demand the release of inmates with serious illnesses and the removal of alleged isolation for political inmates.
The group of 44 people camped in their tents at an oil station on Friday night near Bolu Mountain and hit the road again on Saturday morning under police surveillance, Doğan news agency reported. The group walked towards Bolu Saturday morning and distributed printed statements to villages on their way.
A group of 50 mostly young people attacked the TAYAD members with stones and glass bottles as they neared Bolu. The assailants chanted slogans including, “Damn PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” and “The greatest soldier is ours.” Later, a group of artisans joined the assailant group and attacked the TAYAD marchers with tools like screwdrivers. Due to melee, the traffic on the road blocked at both sides.
Lawyer Behiç Aşçı, who had earlier embarked on a hunger strike for inmates, was in the TAYAD group, the daily Radikal reported. Aşçı alleged that police provoked locals during the whole march by saying that the group was PKK members carrying a body [of a PKK member] for a funeral. A local imam came by and told one of their friends that police had told locals they were PKK members carrying a body, Aşçı said. The group told the imam that they were TAYAD members, leading the imam to say then he should go to the coffee house and prevent the attack. The police did not disperse the assailants and allowed them to walk nearby, Aşçı said. “This was an organized attack,” he said. TAYAD members continued on to Ankara with a police escort.
The members of TAYAD had been assaulted earlier in Edirne, Trabzon and Erzincan. On April 6, 2005, TAYAD members were assaulted in Trabzon while they were distributing printed statements. Four days later, another group from TAYAD protested the detention of four TAYAD members after the attack. The group wanted to held a press meeting but they were attacked.