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Two Hunger Strikers Die in Turkey,

September 28, 2001

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ A former prisoner and a student died of starvation Friday, raising to 40 the number who have died in a hungers strike protesting Turkey’s new maximum security prisons.

Ayse Bastimur, 34, and Ozlem Durakcan, 19, were both members of the banned Marxist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation, the prisoners’ support group Ozgur Tayad said.

Bastimur had been fasting for almost a year while Durakcan joined the fast two months ago, the group said. The prisoners take vitamins and sugared water to prolong their fasts.

More than a hundred militant leftist prisoners or their supporters are taking part in the fast, launched last year. The hunger strikers aim to push the government into ending a policy of transferring inmates to high security prisons where they are locked up in one or three-person cells.

The prisoners claim the small cells leave them isolated and vulnerable to abuse by guards.

The government has ruled out a return to the old prison system where militants were kept in wards of up to a hundred people. The government says the wards had become indoctrination and training centers for the militants.

The DHKP-C claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack two weeks ago that killed the bomber, two policemen and an Australian woman. The group said it carried out the attack in support of the prisoners.

Violent clashes broke out in December, when security forces began transferring inmates to the new prisons. Thirty inmates and two soldiers were killed in those clashes.

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