Statement by HDP Women’s Assembly:
It has been announced by her lawyers that Aysel Tuğluk, one of our previous co-chairs and a former Member of Parliament, is suffering from dementia in Kandıra F Type Prison, where she is imprisoned. At Tuğluk’s request, we had tried to prevent her illness from being made public. However, we now feel it necessary to make a statement as her condition is getting worse and her life is at risk.
Although we had not made her illness public, in the last months Tuğluk’s serious health problems have been discussed in various media channels. Government officials have been indifferent to her health condition. Now we want to, once again, publicise our objections regarding what Tuğluk is going through; and we increase our solidarity.
We would like to underline that, according to expert reports, because of her disease, Tuğluk should not be kept in prison.
The Human Rights Association (İHD) Istanbul Branch’s Prison Commission made a statement regarding Tuğluk’s health problems in the past months. The Prison Commission referred to the report of the Kocaeli University Forensic Medicine Institution, dated 12 July 2021. The report stated: “It is clear that Aysel Tuğluk has an illness that negatively affects her memory, and she needs the help of a second person to survive. The life of Tuğluk, whose disease is rapidly progressing, is put at risk”.
We believe that the anti-Kurdish policies of the Turkish state, based on denial, destruction and forced assimilation, were instrumental in triggering Tugluk’s dementia. Why do we say this? Shortly after Tuğluk was arrested, her mother passed away and she was temporarily released from prison to attend the funeral. Everyone at the funeral was subjected to verbal attacks and harassment by racist groups at the cemetery. They were even attacked by stones. This continued during the burial, and afterwards, it became even more gruesome, with guns fired into the air. Aysel Tuğluk experienced all of this. She also witnessed the removal of her mother’s body from its burial place. We believe that these traumatic developments, followed by harsh prison conditions, could be responsible for triggering the severe memory loss that Tugluk is now experiencing.
With the progression of Tuğluk’s disease, the Presidency of the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution released a report that had been prepared after just a five-minute interview. This report claimed that Tuğluk can manage to lead her life on her own. As we have seen in other cases, the position taken by the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institution is political. Sick prisoners die in prison or just a few days after they are released.
The primary responsibility for Tuğluk’s illness lies with the government, which continues its pressure and discrimination. The government tries to stay in power through sexist, polarizing, discriminatory, and militarist policies. It prevents the struggle of women by keeping them in prison or leaving them to die. This antagonistic rule is being carried out through Aysel Tuğluk.
Aysel Tuğluk has dedicated her life to democratic struggle – combatting attacks on Kurdish and Alevi identity and especially fighting for women’s freedom. During her time as a lawyer, she was present wherever there was a violation of rights. She was elected in the first application of the co-presidential system, and, during her time as co-chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), she inspired the struggle of women from different identities and structures in Turkey. Today, “Justice for Aysel Tuğluk” means defence of the women’s freedom struggle. It means the defence of democratic politics and rejection of the murderous policies being pursued by the government.
We are calling out to the Ministry of Justice: Aysel Tuğluk must be released immediately. Otherwise, you will be responsible for any negative situation that may occur.
We announce here that we will transform our “Justice for Women” campaign into a campaign for women held as political hostages, and especially sick prisoners. We call to all women: Let us defend the politics of life against the murderous policy imposed on imprisoned women, as embodied in the person of Aysel Tuğluk!