Forensic medicine continues to persecute Aysel Tuğluk suffering from dementia in prison

The lawyers of jailed Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk made a written statement about the situation of the former Co-Chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), lawyer and lawmaker. The lawyers noted that Tuğluk, jailed in Kandıra F Type Closed Prison for years, has been suffering from dementia.

“After the first diagnosis and treatment by Seka State Hospital in February 2021, her examinations continued on and off at Kocaeli State Hospital and ATK Specialization Departments,” the statement said.

“(…) The prescription contents of the prison doctor or the affiliated Family Health Center (ASM) doctor are relevant documents proving that she cannot continue her life in prison without the help of someone else due to the stage of her disease,” the statement added.


The statement remarked that the ATK issued a new report which is contrary to the health committee reports and scientific expert opinions that Tuğluk could not be held in prison alone. “The latest report prepared by ten experts contains the dissenting opinion of three committee members who argued that a final evaluation could be made at the end of a three-month period during which Tuğluk should be monitored on a daily basis.”

The statement emphasized that the last report by the ATK showed the extreme weakness of Tuğluk’s remembrance level in many tests during the examination and how insufficient her scores were. “Yet, the report draws the conclusion that ‘she can maintain her life in prison’, far from being scientific and objective. The report issued by the ATK 3rd Specialization Committee is one-sided, contradictory, not based on evidence and far from being scientific and objective.”


The statement included the expert opinion submitted to the prosecutor’s office. “When the records and information on Tuğluk’s examinations are evaluated chronologically, her illness went worse compared to previous examinations. It is understood that her illness has evolved to a level that prevents her from evaluating the facts, distinguishing between good and bad, right and wrong, making independent decisions with her own free will,” the expert opinion said.

The statement added that the lawyers requested the Constitutional Court (AYM) to give an interim injunction. However, the court made a decision so far.


Last March, a report prepared by nine experts from the forensic department of Kocaeli University stated that Aysel Tuğluk was no longer fit to be imprisoned due to chronic and progressive Alzheimer’s dementia and should be released from prison immediately. The competent ATK, an institution of the Ministry of Justice, has made a contrary determination and has so far seen no reason for a suspension of the execution of the sentence. The Institute of Forensic Medicine did not even respond to a court-ordered detention examination in the context of the Kobanê trial at the end of October. In December, Reyhan Yalçındağ then applied for a third expert opinion, which was granted. A committee was set up at the state hospital in Kocaeli and Aysel Tuğluk’s condition was re-examined. Based on the results of this report, ATK apparently felt compelled to agree to an in-depth examination of Tuğluk’s fitness for detention.


Aysel Tuğluk has been in prison since the end of 2016. The lawyer, who represented Abdullah Öcalan among others, has already been convicted in several cases, and other trials are still pending. In February 2020, the Turkish Court of Appeal confirmed the highest prison sentence of ten years’ imprisonment against Tuğluk. The 56-year-old was convicted of “leading a terrorist organization” due to her role as co-chair of the grassroots alliance Democratic Society Congress (DTK). In the so-called Kobanê trial in Ankara, she faces an aggravated life sentence.

Aysel Tuğluk is the founder of several non-governmental organizations such as the Social Law Research Foundation (Toplumsal Hukuk Araştırmaları Vakfı), the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği, IHD) and the Patriotic Women’s Association (Yurtsever Kadınlar Derneği). Tuğluk is also one of the co-founders of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (Demokratik Toplum Partisi, DTP), of which she was leader for a time. The DTP was banned by a decision of the Constitutional Court in 2009. Most recently, she sat in parliament for the HDP and was the party’s deputy chair until her arrest almost five years ago.

In September 2017, an attack by a Turkish mob on the funeral of Hatun Tuğluk, the mother of Aysel Tuğluk, sparked worldwide outrage. Hundreds of racists and nationalists attacked the funeral in Ankara with stones and shouted hate slogans against the Armenian and Alevi minorities. The body then had to be exhumed because the mob had threatened to desecrate the corpse. A few days later, Tuğluk was buried in Dersim and her daughter was not allowed to say goodbye as the prison administration had not given her a second special permit.

Source: ANF English

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