Prisoner Odabaş, who has cancer, is neither treated nor released

Eren Odabaş from the board of the Cemevi for the Gazi martyrs in Istanbul is in prison despite suffering from serious cancer. The political prisoner is denied treatment.

After an armed attack on the Palace of Justice in Istanbul-Çağlayan in early February 2024 attributed to the DHKP-C, the Turkish state seized the opportunity and arrested over a hundred people, particularly from the Alevi democratic opposition. One of them is Eren Odabaş from the board of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association Gazi Martyrs Cemevi, who is seriously ill with cancer.

Eren Odabaş suffers from a particularly aggressive type of cancer. A desmoid tumor was discovered in his leg. This is a rare type of cancer that spreads to the muscles. The Oncology Institute of Istanbul University determined that treatment and control of the tumor were vital for Odabaş. Despite this report, Odabaş remains in Sincan Maximum Security Prison and will not be released, treated or transferred to a more suitable detention center.

The prisoner's wife, Özge Kar Odabaş, told ANF: "They want to let my husband die."

On 6 February, the police stormed countless apartments. One of these apartments was the one in which journalists Özge Kar Odabaş and Eren Odabaş and their 14-month-old daughter lived. Odabaş was illegally detained and arrested based on a false denunciation. It was proven, in fact, that he was at work in Çağlayan during the action. The masked police officers, armed with long guns, even threatened the 14-month-old toddler with a weapon. Özge Kar Odabaş is still traumatized by what happened that night. She described how her husband was beaten. “They were very aggressive. When I told them my baby was sleeping, they said, 'Go wake up your baby.' They put my husband Eren on the floor, handcuffed him behind his back, and dragged him into the living room. They pointed a gun at my 14-month-old child and at me. Male police officers searched my closet. When I pointed out to them that they weren't allowed to do that, they said, 'There are no policewomen here, it's just us,' and went through my personal belongings. They insulted and threatened me because I received letters from prison describing rights violations. I managed to fight my way into the hallway with the baby in my arms, where my husband was at that point. Eren was held there handcuffed behind his back. The handcuffs were very tight. They ransacked the house. They illegally confiscated USB memory sticks with photos of our wedding and our child, newspaper notes and archives. They took Eren without even allowing him to take off his pyjamas or put on shoes.”

Imprisoned despite a solid alibi and serious illness

Odabaş reported that her husband was subsequently kept at the Vatan police station for three days. Three people posing as Secret Service agents pressured him to work as an informant. Her husband refused. The officials particularly wanted to obtain information about the Cemevi, as he was a member of the board. USB sticks that were not in the apartment were then presented to the magistrate as “evidence,” said Odabaş and explained: “We were told that on these USB sticks there was the magazine Halk Okulu, a video clip about the death fast and a letter. But there were no other data storage devices in our apartment, except those with photos of the wedding and the baby, my notes for journalistic work and the archive. At the prosecutor's office, Eren was asked two questions: first, whether he knew the two people who attacked the Çağlayan courthouse, and second, how he found out about the attack. He replied that he did not know the two people and that, like everyone else, he found out about the attack from social media. He also worked as a driver for a private company and on the board of the Cem House, so his whereabouts on the day in question were known. Nevertheless, an arrest warrant was issued for him, even though it was known that he had cancer. After spending a week in Silivri No. 9, he was transferred to Sincan Maximum Security Prison No. 1.”

“The tumor was the result of torture”

Odabaş reported that her husband had already been imprisoned once in 2016 following a false report from a neighbor with whom he had argued. At that time, he was imprisoned in Edirne F-Type Prison and severely tortured by the guards. Then his cancer broke out. A 22 centimeter tumor formed in her husband's leg after this torture and now, while his treatment is still ongoing, he has been illegally arrested again. The journalist explained: “As the tumor was in the muscle and close to the bone, no operation was carried out even when he was released. Instead, he was given certain medication. These have severe side effects, especially on his heart, and can only be given under the strict supervision of the doctor. Since his new incarceration, he has been denied treatment. When he was transferred to the Y-type prison, which is like a hole, he collapsed in a solitary cell. He was then moved to a three-person cell. When I visited him he told me that the conditions were very bad. He said that they were housed in a 32 square meter cell for three people, that everything was automated and that there was only one hour of yard time.”

A requested transfer to Marmara Prison (Silivri), where he could continue his treatment in Istanbul, was rejected by the prison authorities. However, her husband has not yet been treated. “You shouldn’t embarrass my husband or treat him. The reason given for not transferring him is that Ankara Municipal Hospital is the largest hospital in Turkey. However, oncology doctors say it doesn't matter if it is the largest hospital. They say that Eren's treatment should continue at Çapa Medical School, where the first diagnosis was made and which is experienced in this field. I fear for Eren’s life.”

“I’m going to get Eren out of there.”

Özge Kar Odabaş warned that if his husband’s leg was not treated, it would have to be amputated and concluded by saying: “No matter what happens, I will get Eren out of this dark hole.”