Diagnosed with dementia, Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk is still held in the Kocaeli Kandıra Type F Prison despite the medical report of the Kocaeli University concluding that she is not in a state to stay in prison.
In this context, 43 bar associations, law and rights organizations from Turkey and the world have sent a letter to the special rapporteurs and working groups of the United Nations (UN) titled “Urgent Action: Imminent risk to health and life of ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk.”
In their letter addressed to the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health and the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, the 43 law and rights organizations have expressed their “grave concern over the treatment of the seriously ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk.”
The letter has explained that after Aysel Tuğluk was diagnosed with dementia, her condition has gotten worse quickly.
The letter has noted, “Ms. Tuğluk’s continued imprisonment despite her serious health issues and her vulnerabilities to both conditions in the prison and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, show a failure of Turkish authorities to adhere to both their own domestic laws and international standards with regard to treatment of prisoners.”
‘Ensure her immediate release’
The letter has made the following requests:
- We request the Special Procedures to urge the Turkish Government to immediately release Aysel Tuğluk and other severely ill prisoners who are not fit to remain in prison in compliance with Turkey’s domestic and international law obligations.
- We request Special Procedures to intervene in this grave matter and to raise all of these issues with the Turkish Government. Special Procedures are particularly requested to communicate the concerns in relation to violation of prisoners’ rights to medical services and to investigate the circumstances behind the refusal to release severely ill prisoners.
- We further request the Special Rapporteurs to invite the Turkish Government to ensure that all prisons in Turkey have an adequate number of medical staff, including doctors and that they work freely without any undue interference with their work.
- We ask the Special Procedures to urge the Turkish Authorities to introduce and enforce legal provisions for the release of seriously ill prisoners on compassionate grounds. Those legal provisions should create impartial and fair procedures for the medical evaluation of all ill prisoners and the grounds for their release.
- We request the Special Procedures to ensure the Turkish Government allows greater accountability and transparency of prison living conditions by enabling visits and inspections from human rights groups and nongovernmental entities.
|The undersigned organizations|
Sanya Karakaş, Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project (TLSP), the United Kingdom (and on behalf of)
AĞ-DA Toplumsal Cinsiyet Eşitliği Dayanışma Ağı (Gender Equality Solidarity Network), Turkey
Asociación Libre de Abogadas y Abogados, (Free Association of Lawyers, ALA), Madrid, Spain
Batman Barosu (Batman Bar Association), Turkey
Bingöl Barosu (Bingöl Bar Association), Turkey
Conseil national des barreaux (CNB), France
Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (Progressive Lawyers’ Association, ÇHD), Turkey
Dersim -Tunceli- Barosu (Dersim -Tunceli- Bar Association), Turkey
Diyarbakır Barosu (Diyarbakır Bar Association), Turkey
Düşünce Suçu(!?)na Karşı Girişim (Initiative for Freedom of Expression), Turkey
Eşit Haklar İçin İzleme Derneği (Association for Monitoring Equal Rights), Turkey
European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH)
European Democratic Lawyers (AED)
Hak İnisiyatifi Derneği (the Rights Initiative), Turkey
Hakkari Barosu (Hakkari Bar Association), Turkey
Human Rights Committee of the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein, DAV), Germany
Indian Association of Lawyers, India
İnsan Hakları Gündemi Derneği (Human Rights Agenda Association), Turkey
International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Observatory for Lawyers at Risk (OIAD)
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Canada
London Legal Group, the United Kingdom
Mardin Barosu (Mardin Bar Association), Turkey
Medya ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Derneği (Media and Law Studies Association, MLSA), Turkey
Muş Barosu (Muş Bar Association), Turkey
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), Philippines
Özgürlük için Hukukçular Derneği (Association of Lawyers for Freedom, ÖHD), Turkey
P24 (Platform for Independent Journalism), Turkey
Republikanischer Anwältinnen – und Anwälteverein e.V. (Republican Lawyers Association, RAV), Germany
Rosa Kadın Derneği (Rosa Women’s Association), Turkey
Siirt Barosu (Siirt Bar Association), Turkey
Syndicat des Avocats pour la Démocratie: le SAD, Belgium
Şanlıurfa Barosu (Şanlıurfa Bar Association), Turkey
Şırnak Barosu (Şırnak Bar Association), Turkey
The Center for Research and Elaboration on Democracy/ Group of International Legal Intervention (CRED/GIGI)
The Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers (Giuristi Democratici), Italy
The National Association of Democratic Lawyers, (NADEL), South Africa
Toplum ve Hukuk Araştırmaları Vakfı (Foundation for Society and Legal Studies), Turkey
Turkish-German Forum of Culture, Germany
Van Barosu (Van Bar Association), Turkey
On December 29, 2016, when she was the Vice Co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk was arrested along with seven other politicians from the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
The indictment filed against Tuğluk, who was the DTK Co-Chair till September 2014, brought her statements to the press as well as the funerals that she attended as criminal evidence against the politician.
On March 16, 2018, the Ankara 17th Heavy Penal Court sentenced Aysel Tuğluk to 8 years in prison as per the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) no. 3713. Increasing this prison term by half, the court then gave a 12-years prison sentence to the politician. Lastly, it has decreased this prison sentence by one sixth and ruled that she shall be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
As Aysel Tuğluk’s appeal to the Ankara Regional Court of Justice was rejected, her file was sent to the Court of Cassation.
Her mother’s funeral
Aysel Tuğluk’s mother Hatun Tuğluk lost her life in 2017. Upon her last will, her deceased body was brought to the İncek Cemetery in Ankara. Aysel Tuğluk left prison by permission and her mother was laid to rest; shortly afterwards, a group of 5-6 people gathered to protest the funeral.
The ones who attended the funeral said that this number gradually increased and they tried to attack the grave.
As the attacks continued, the deceased body of Hatun Tuğluk had to be removed from the ground and laid to rest somewhere else. One of the people who attacked the funeral turned out to have a picture with Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu at the police station.
Aysel Tuğluk’s elder brother Alaattin Tuğluk said that his sister had a memory loss after their mother’s passing:
My sister didn’t look fine. She asks the same question 3-4 times. She doesn’t remember some things. For instance, when she wants to ask about someone from the family, she says, ‘Who was that, who?’ They are close people, it is impossible for her to not know them. I am concerned that this will come to an irreversible point and that we will lose my sister… I want treatment before it is too late. Let another committee examine her and give a decision accordingly. She is given 1-2 medications now. It is not enough. She will go [to jail] after her treatment ends.
About Aysel Tuğluk
She was the founding member and Co-Chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and elected Diyarbakır MP in 2007-2009. She became the Van MP of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2011-2015. She served as the Vice Co-Chair of the HDP responsible for Law and Human Rights.
Aysel Tuğluk was also a member of the Society and Law Studies Foundation Executive Board, a member of the Human Rights Association (İHD) and the founder of the Patriotic Women’s Association.
Born in Elazığ in 1965, she graduated from the Faculty of Law of İstanbul University and worked as a self-employed lawyer.