Kurtulan: Prisoners are tortured

HDP MP and human rights expert Fatma Kurtulan warns that practices in Turkish prisons have reached the level of torture and lead to death.

The condition of prisoners in Turkish jails is becoming increasingly dramatic. HDP deputy and member of the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish National Assembly Fatma Kurtulan spoke in this ANF interview about the treatment of seriously ill prisoners in handcuffs, military calls, multiple deprivation of basic rights, the refusal to release prisoners after their sentences had been completed and the lack of investigations after the death of prisoners.

Kurtulan said that as a member of the Prisons Committee of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, she has visited three different prisons this month and the human rights violations there have reached serious levels. Kurtulan said: “It was claimed that Vedat Erkmen committed suicide in Tekirdağ a few months ago. We spoke to cellmates about him. They said that several times people claiming to be from the 'secret service' took Vedat Erkmen out of the cell and tried to force him to act as an informer. There are prisoners who are said to have committed suicide and others who died because they were not treated. These are suspicious deaths and the Department of Justice is responsible.”

"Arbitrariness reaches levels of torture"

Kurtulan underlined that the arbitrary treatment, violations and abuses reached the level of torture and said: "These are not humane practices. There is constant resistance to these practices, and when they do resist, prisoners are beaten. The problems that prisoners complain about, whether they are political prisoners or not, are the same. We have been visiting prisons for a long time. Even if the Commission makes some efforts, it cannot bring about improvements that lead to a fundamental change.”

Ill prisoners are sentenced to death

In particular, Kurtulan described the situation of ill prisoners as dramatic. Even to visit the infirmary, they would have to wait for months. She reported what the prisoners told her: "Even if we are then taken to the infirmary – they told me - it is usually far too late. When we are examined, no tests are done and no medicines are given to us.”

Kurtulan noted that ill prisoners are de facto sentenced to death because of this situation. As part of her work, Kurtulan was able to visit HDP politician Aysel Tuğluk, who suffers from serious dementia. “Our friend Aysel Tuğluk is one of these seriously ill prisoners. We recently visited her in her cell in Kandıra. Aysel is definitely not the old Aysel anymore. The change is obvious. You can feel the symptoms of their illness. Nevertheless, she always has to go to the Institute for Forensic Medicine (ATK). The ATK is a problem of its own. Unfortunately, it is an institution that decides solely on the basis of political motives.”

They want to break prisoners

Kurtulan pointed to the isolation of the prisoners. In particular, political prisoners are moved thousands of kilometers away from their relatives. So relationship with the families is cut off. According to Kurtulan, the claim that security is at stake is absurd: "Your relative is in prison, how can you threaten security when you go to visit him/her? The state uses every opportunity to destroy, break, isolate and violate every right of the prisoners.”

Assaults are not investigated

Kurtulan said that in Sincan prison, a young man was killed in an attack by guards. “This death was neither asked for nor investigated nor dealt with. Misinformation was given. The Minister of Justice gave different information than the director general of prisons. Some prisoners have been able to tell the public that they have been tortured, but it is not being investigated.”

Isolation tightened on Imrali

The MP also spoke of the tightened isolation of Abdullah Öcalan on the prison island of Imrali. "Why are Abdullah Öcalan and three other prisoners held under the strictest isolation? Because Turkey chose war. The government has completely turned its back on democracy, law and justice. The Turkish state insists on an extensive and brutal war. Which is why it has deepened the isolation in Imrali.”