Kurdish political prisoner, Garibe Gezer, dies in prison after publicising her severe torture

Statement by HDP Women’s Assembly:

Under the AKP government, almost all Turkish institutions, and especially prisons, are committing crimes and disregarding both the law and human dignity. Turkish prisons have become centers of torture and ill-treatment. These inhumane practices, especially when applied to political prisoners, deeply affect the human conscience. One particularly distressing and worrying example is the death, on 9 December, of Kurdish political prisoner, Ms Garibe Gezer, in the Kandıra High Security Prison. The management of the prison claims that she took her own life, but this has been contested by both her sister and her lawyer. Before her death, Garibe Gezer had been subjected to severe torture by prison guards.

Garibe Gezer was transferred from Kayseri Prison to Kandıra prison on 15 March 2021. On her arrival, she was isolated in a cell for 22 days. She was then transferred, at her request, to a three-person cell, but, on 21 May, was told she would have to go back into a single cell. When she objected, female wardens dragged her to the ground while holding her hair and arms. They took off her shalwar (a type of trousers) and they deliberately paraded her in front of male wardens. They forced her into a cell, and when she protested by pounding on the cell door, wardens came to the cell and beat her. They told her that if she continued hitting the door, they would put her in a padded cell. On 24 May, eight wardens came to her cell to beat her. Women wardens bent her hands, and the men stepped on her neck with their boots. She was then taken to a padded cell. At the door of the cell, her clothes were taken off. She was searched and sexually assaulted. She was mistreated in the infirmary as well, and denied medical treatment. After these traumatic events, she was again locked in a solitary cell. Due to the sexual violence, Garibe Gezer attempted to take her own life. On 7 June, she attempted to set her cell on fire and was again thrown into the padded cell for 24 hours. In a conversation with her family, she reported that she had received a five-day solitary punishment and that further disciplinary proceedings were underway against her. Some of her letters were censored, and some were not forwarded at all. Although these complaints and allegations have been known for some time, no investigation has been launched by the prosecutor’s office and no action has been taken against those responsible. On 27 October, 22 female deputies from the HDP brought the case of Garibe Gezer before parliament and called for an investigation, but they too failed to get the authorities to take the necessary action.

The prime responsibility for Garibe Gezer’s death lies with the AKP government, which has effectively normalized torture and ill-treatment in Turkey’s prisons. The government’s policy is simply to cover up and even encourage, crimes committed in the institutions that operate under its control. We call on the international community, on all democrats, and especially on women’s organizations to raise their voices against the inhumane practices and crimes that are being committed in Turkey’s prisons.