The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to life in a violent police operation that killed 12 prisoners and wounded nearly 50 others at İstanbul’s Bayrampaşa Prison in 2000.
The notorious police operation in December 2000, known as “Hayata Dönüş” (Return to Life), at Bayrampaşa Prison came after prisoners in various Turkish jails went on a hunger strike in October 2000 in protest of plans for “F-type” prisons, intended to introduce smaller detention units for inmates.
In December 2000 a team of mediators held talks with the strikers, and a delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) traveled to Turkey. However, no solution could be found.
On Dec. 18, 2000 the warden of Bayrampaşa Prison submitted for the prosecutor’s approval a request for intervention by security forces in order to provide the necessary medical treatment and prevent deaths. On Dec. 19 security forces intervened in the prison, but they were met with resistance from some prisoners who had firearms and inflammable products.
According to autopsies and fire service reports, those who died succumbed to carbon dioxide poisoning, gunshots or explosives.
Subsequently, relatives of the deceased and wounded applied to local courts and later to the ECtHR, and criminal proceedings over abuse of power were brought against prison security staff and the gendarmerie officers who took part in evacuating the prison.