HDP’s Beştaş: Death from Covid-19 has begun in prisons

The first Coronavirus related death in prison has been reported in Turkey. HDP politician Meral Danış Beştaş accuses the government of paving the way for mass murder with the planned amendment of the prison law.

In the Samsun province in northern Turkey, a prisoner has died of coronavirus. This is the first known death from Covid-19 in a Turkish prison. The Turkish parliament will today continue to debate a draft amendment to the Penal Code tabled by the governing coalition AKP/MHP. The draft provides for the release of 90,000 prisoners; political prisoners are explicitly excluded from the regulation.

At a press conference in Ankara, the group vice chairperson of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Meral Danış Beştaş, warned of a mass death in the prisons and accused the government of deliberately causing a massacre. "Up to sixty people live together in the same ward in prisons. They have no possibility to take precautions. We do not want enemy justice, but a humane legal system that treats everyone equally," said the politician in front of the parliament building.

The planned law change will further polarize society and make social peace impossible, warned Meral Danış Beştaş. Besides seventy-year-old Mehmet Yeter, who died five days ago in Samsun and was buried secretly without informing his relatives, further cases of infection in the prisons Yeşilyurt and Şakran are known.

"While death is already spreading, we are discussing who should be given amnesty. The draft is a special amnesty for selected prisoners. The murderers of Soma, Çorlu and Ermenek are to be released, the elected officials are to remain in prison. Murderers of women and rapists are also to be released without preconditions. Opponents like us will be called terrorists and left to die."