Over 50 thousand people demand the release of prisoners

A petition demanding the release of prisoners because of the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak, was signed by over 55 thousand people.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Kocaeli MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu launched a petition demanding the release of all prisoners without discrimination to counter the rapidly spreading coronavirus epidemic.

Some 55 thousand people have so far signed the petition, called "No Discrimination in Judicial Package - Equal Sentence discount for Political Prisoners".

The rapidly growing campaign is run in Turkish, English and German.

The campaign organisers reminded that "as a rapidly spreading virus has concluded mass killings, governments have been taking severe measures aimed at ensuring public health and minimizing the loss of lives. For this reason, it is imperative to urgently take steps for Turkey’s prisons, where more than 300,000 prisoners are locked up, and some 150,000 prison officials are working."

The campaign added: "Turkey’s incarcerated population has surpassed the country’s prison capacity by 100,000 people. The prison facilities lack adequate isolation, hygiene, nutrition, and treatment capabilities. This situation poses a grave threat to the right to life of all the prisoners, which the state is under a constitutional obligation to protect.

Primarily, all sick, elderly, women, and infant prisoners should be urgently released. And the judicial reform package, as well as the penal execution bill, which are expected to be put on the Parliament’s agenda in the coming days, should be designed in line with the constitutional principle of equality."

The campaign continued: "As international organizations have been warning, tens of thousands of people today continue to face terrorism-related charges, which are in clear violation of principles of legality, predictability, lawfulness, non-retroactivity.

Tens of thousands who have not been involved in or promoted coercion and violence, have been accused of leading, being a member of or supporting terrorist organizations.

Tens of thousands who have had nothing to do with the criminalized actions have been investigated and prosecuted simply based on their views, in complete disregard of the individuality of the criminal responsibility."

The campaign also underlined that "at present, over 50,000 journalists, writers, politicians, musicians, academics, human rights defenders, teachers, doctors, lawyers, university students, business people, and homemakers are incarcerated on charges of terrorism."

The petition demands "the release of those in pretrial detention over such accusations in order to protect their right to life, either through the judicial reform package to be reviewed by the Parliament or through rulings to be directly delivered by the courts. As for those who are convicted, they should be able to benefit from the amendments."

The petition can be signed on Change.org at this address