More ill prisoners have died in Turkey’s prisons

Press notice by HDP Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy:

We have already informed the international community about the worsening situation for ill prisoners in Turkey. Prisons continue to be centers of ill-treatment and torture. According to the statement of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Prisons Commission, dated December 14, 2021, at least 59 ill prisoners have lost their lives since early 2020, including seven who died shortly after deferment of the execution of their sentences. And according to the İHD’s statement of November 19, 2021, there are at least 1569 ill prisoners, 591 of whom are seriously ill. The number of ill prisoners has multiplied by six in ten years. Sadly, the number of prisoners who have lost their lives in Turkey’s prisons has increased by nine in just the past three months.

On 21 January 2022, Ramazan Turan, a 70-year-old ill prisoner, died in the single quarantine cell where he had been kept for 22 days in Van High-Security Prison. It is claimed that Ramazan Turan died of a heart attack. His autopsy was conducted without the presence of his family lawyers.

On 31 January 2022, Mehmet Hanefi Bilgin (58), who had been behind bars for 30 years, lost his life in Bolu Type F Prison. The prison administration called his family and informed them that Bilgin had had a heart attack. He had had a previous heart attack 3 years ago. Bilgin was due to be released on June 27.

On 2 February 2022, ill prisoner Turgay Deniz, who had severe tuberculosis, died shortly after his release. Deniz had been using a respiratory assist device for twelve years as his left lung was “dysfunctional” and he also had lesions on his right lung. Despite his severe ill health, he was kept in prison. He underwent surgery, but his health continued to worsen. Only then was Deniz released from prison for treatment.

On 10 March 2022, Bedri Çakmak, who had been released in 2021 after the intervention of human rights organizations, lost his life. Çakmak got stomach cancer when he was detained in Diyarbakır D Type Closed Prison, but was not released until his cancer was in its final stages when it was too late for him.

In addition to these prisoners who lost their lives this year, five ill prisoners lost their lives in December 2021. These prisoners are as follows:

On December 9, 2021, Garibe Gezer, who was held in Kocaeli No. 1 Type F High-Security Closed Prison, was found dead in the padded cell where she had been isolated. The prison administration alleged that she had committed suicide. Before conducting an investigation, the prosecutor’s office imposed a confidentiality order on the file.

On December 15, 2021, 65-year-old Abdülrezzak Şuyur, who was held in the İzmir Aliağa Şakran Type T Prison, lost his life in his cell because he had not been released despite his advanced cancer.

On December 15, 2021, Halil Güneş, who was on the İHD’s severely ill prisoners list, lost his life in his cell in the Diyarbakır No. 2 Prison.

On December 17, 2021, Ilyas Demir, who was serving a life sentence in Bolu Prison, was found dead in his cell. Demir had been suffering from mental health conditions.

On December 19, 2021, Vedat Erkmen, who was held in the Tekirdağ No. 2 Type F High-Security Closed Prison, died suspiciously in his cell. The administration informed his family that he had committed suicide.

In our statement of 7 January 2022, we drew the attention of the international community to the worsening health condition of jailed HDP politician and former deputy, Ms Aysel Tuğluk, who is suffering from dementia, which has become severe over the course of her imprisonment. On 21 December, Tuğluk’s attorneys reapplied to the Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK), for her release. However, the Institute has prepared a report that states that “no medical finding or document has been obtained to suggest that she had a mental defect of a nature or to the extent that it would affect her criminal liability in the period falling within the time frame of the crime…” Accordingly, the forensic medical report has concluded that ill prisoner Aysel Tuğluk “has full criminal liability”. This last report again demonstrates that the Forensic Medicine İnstitute is highly politically motivated and its reports are not prepared from an objective and scientific point of view.

We once again call on the international community – and first and foremost the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and other relevant organs of the Council of Europe, human rights commissioners of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, human and women’s rights organizations – to take immediate action for all ill prisoners and against this inhumane situation in Turkish prisons, before it is too late.