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Turkish lawyer dies on hunger strike

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EBRU Timtik, a Turkish lawyer demanding a fair trial after being charged with membership of a terrorist organisation has died in an Istanbul hospital on the 238th day of her hunger strike.

  According to friends, “Ebru Timtik weighed just 30 kilogrammes (65 pounds) at the time of her death, which has sparked condemnation from opposition parties in Turkey.

  “Ebru Timtik, who has been on hunger strike for 238 days demanding fair trial, became a martyr!” the People’s Law Bureau, a leftist lawyers’ organisation mainly focused on Turkey’s political cases, announced on Twitter late Thursday.

  Timtik was a member of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (CHD), another leftist group accused of having close ties to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left Marxist organisation.

  The DHKP-C has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in Turkey, including a 2013 suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard.

  In 2019, an Istanbul court handed multiple sentences to 18 lawyers, including Timtik, on charges of “forming and running a terror group” and “membership in a terror group.”

  Timtik, who had been initially detained in September 2018, was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison, which prompted her and some other lawyers to start a hunger strike in February.

  She had been jailed in Silivri – a huge court and prison complex on the outskirts of Istanbul.

  Last October, an appeals court unheld the lawyers’ jail sentences. 

  Timtik, who turned her hunger strike into a death fast together with another lawyer, Aytac Unsal, was moved from the prison to a hospital in July.

  The pair were consuming only liquids and vitamins, and a forensic report showed at the time that their condition was “not suitable” for a continued stay in prison.

  Turkey has in the past seen hunger strikes launched by left-leaning political groups.

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