Smashing H-Block: The Rise and Fall of the Popular Campaign against Criminalization, 1976-1982

Smashing H-Block: The Rise and Fall of the Popular Campaign against Criminalization, 1976-1982

Smashing H-Block: The Rise and Fall of the Popular Campaign against Criminalization, 1976-1982

Smashing H-Block: The Rise and Fall of the Popular Campaign against Criminalization, 1976-1982

Excerpt

A hunger strike is a two-sided weapon, and it does not work well
unless those inside and outside the jail play their part with equal
determination.

Seán MacStiofáin (former hunger striker
and IRA Chief of Staff, 1970–2)

For a number of years, one of the first republican murals to be encountered on Belfast’s Falls Road was of forty-five-year old ‘political prisoner’ Sevgi Erdogan. The mural called on viewers to ‘support the Turkish hunger strike’ and reminded them that ‘she was inspired by [Irish hunger striker] Bobby Sands’. Erdogan was a member of Turkey’s Revolutionary People’s Party-Front (DHKP-C); she died in July 2001 after a prolonged hunger strike.

According to a report drafted by the New York-based human rights organization Human Rights Watch: ‘As of October 2001, thirty-three prisoners and eight relatives had died in hunger strikes in protest at the F-type [high-security prison] regime [in Turkey]. More than fifty other hunger strikers suffered severe and permanent brain damage.’ Fourteen more protesting Turkish prisoners died on hunger strike the following year, ‘bringing the total number to sixty-four since … 2000’. Few people know this.

Both Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) made various statements in support of the Turkish hunger strikers. In the summer of 2001, nine Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners embarked on a five-day sympathy hunger strike in support of the ongoing protest. Party members travelled to Turkey . . .

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