Turkish lawyer Ebru Timtik dies on hunger strike after 238 days

Lawyers Aytaç Ünsal (l) and the now deceased Ebru Timtik (r). (Supplied)

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

Friends said 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' organization mainly focused on Turkey's political cases, announced on Twitter late Thursday.

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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 organization.

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.

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Hunger strike in Turkish prison

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.

A few dozen people were waiting Friday outside an Istanbul forensic lab which was examining her body.

Police heightened security measures around the building, according to an AFP reporter.

The death of Timtik, who friends said was born in 1978, has been condemned by opposition parties.

“Ebru Timtik was massacred by the tyrants in power!” Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Garo Paylan said in a tweet.

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

Last year, thousands of prisoners ended their hunger strike against the conditions of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan around 200 days after launching their fast.

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Last Update: Friday, 28 August 2020 KSA 14:35 - GMT 11:35
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