Aytaç Ünsal, a 31-year-old lawyer, has been on a death fast for two hundred and eleven days. Ünsal’s demand is for a fair trial. He had been charged with membership of a ‘terrorist’ organisation, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKP-C), along with eighteen lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers Organization (ÇHD).
Aytaç is the member of the ÇHD. Its lawyers were sentenced to prison terms of over 159 years on 20 March, based on the statements of a witness. Although the witness later stated that his testimony should not be taken into account, it did not alter the court’s decision.
After the trial, Aytaç Ünsal and another lawyer, Ebru Timtik, began their hunger strikes, one after another. Ünsal had been sentenced to ten years and six months imprisonment and Timtik had been given thirteen years and six months. The lawyers turned their hunger strikes into death fasts on 5 April.
Timtik died on the 238th day of her death fast, on 25 August. Aytaç Ünsal is still continuing with his death fast and he is on his 211th day. His health is deteriorating every day, noted his father Nihat Ünsal, when interviewed by the BBC. He called on authorities to assume responsibility for their actions.
“We will be faced with very tragic things this week if nothing is done”, remarked his father. Nihat Ünsal confirmed that his son’s health has deteriorated significantly since Ebru Timtik’s death. He stated that the conditions that his son is experiencing at the hospital are worse than in prison.
Aytaç Ünsal’s mother has been a judge for more than thirty years. His father stated that the family is also demanding a fair trial for Aytaç as well as parole. He added: “My wife has been a judge for thirty years but even she cannot understand what kind of trial this has been”.
After Aytaç was informed of Ebru Timtik’s death, he sent a message to her at her funeral. Referring to her as his sister, his colleague, his lawyer, he wrote: “Is there any other example of this, a lawyer, who sacrifices her life for justice?”