A police officer slapped Ferhat Encü, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) İstanbul co-chair, during a demonstration for ill prisoners yesterday (December 18).
The police dispersed the crowd, which included HDP members and family members of ill prisoners.
Mehmet Zeki, a camera operator for Artı TV who filmed the incident, was later detained.
Meral Danyıldız, an Artı TV reporter, tweeted, “They detained Zeki for filming the incident. They also battered Artı TV reporter Umut Taşdağ. Umut fell to the ground. He went to the hospital.”
Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned former co-chair of the party, tweeted, “The Kurds will never forget this attack on our mothers and the slap on Ferhat Encü. You have never seen a slap. Wait for the [elections]. We will show you!”
The İstanbul Governor’s Office announced today that it had opened an investigation into the incident.
Ferhat Encü, also a former MP for the HDP, lost 11 members of his family in the 2011 Roboski Massacre, where 34 people were killed in airstrikes in the Uludere (Roboski) district of Şırnak. The people, initially claimed to be members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had turned out to be gasoline and cigarette smugglers between Iraq and Turkey.
Ill prisoners in Turkey
According to the 2021 Council of Europe Criminal Statistics Reports, Turkey has the second-highest number of prisoners globally, with approximately 300,000 people behind bars. According to Human Rights Association (İHD) Central Prisons Committee, there were 1,517 ill prisoners, with 651 in critical condition, as of April 2022.
At least 50 ill prisoners died in prisons or shorlty after being released in the first eight months of the year, according to the Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD).
Article 16 of the Enforcement Law, amended by Law No. 6411 in 2013, states that “enforcement of sentences for prisoners, who cannot live on their own under prison conditions due to a critical sickness or disability and evaluated to pose no threat to public safety, can be deferred until they recuperate as per the procedure set forth in the third paragraph.” However, the İHD notes that this provision is not actually implemented.
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