Information note by our Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy regarding the worsening conditions and deaths in Turkey’s prisons:
As explained in our previous statement, from the HDP Women's Assembly on Aysel Tuğluk and Garibe Gezer, Turkey’s prisons have become centres of torture and ill-treatment, especially under the rule of the AKP Government. There are also many sick prisoners who need the attention of the international community. According to recent data from the Human Rights Association (İHD), at least 59 sick prisoners have died in Turkey’s prisons since the beginning of 2020. The İHD data shows that there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in jail, 604 of them being seriously sick. Two of these seriously sick prisoners died on the same day, 15 December 2021.
One of these was Halil Güneş, who lost his life in Diyarbakır High-Security Prison No 2. Güneş was on the İHD list of sick prisoners and had not been released despite all calls. Although he suffered from severe cancer, Güneş had been kept in solitary confinement for five days. The Diyarbakır Training and Research Hospital made a report that stated he could not stay in prison, but this was over-ridden by a report from the Forensic Medicine Institution, prepared on 29 January 2014, which concluded that Güneş could survive on his own and remain in prison, so preventing his release.
The other was Abdülrezzak Şuyur, who lost his life in İzmir Aliağa Şakran T Type Prison. Şuyur was diagnosed with lung cancer three months ago, and also had asthma. He received no treatment after his cancer diagnosis. As with Güneş, Şuyur was not released from prison despite applications by his lawyers and calls of human rights organisations. He was in prison at all had already been challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, which found in his favour and ruled that his fundamental rights had been violated in 2006.
We would like to emphasize that the number of sick prisoners has increased almost six times due to the absence of appropriate measures and treatments in prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may remember, we informed the international community by our statement dated 26 May 2020 on the alarming situation in Turkey’s prisons amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. On 13 April 2020, a highly contested special amnesty law that enabled the release of some 90 thousand convicts was enacted by the votes of the AKP and its ultranationalist partner MHP. This unfair and discriminatory law categorically excluded from its scope all political prisoners facing “terrorism-related charges.” It also applied only to convicts; the law also excluded those jailed pending trial. We hereby present to your attention the statement we have mentioned in the appendix.
The AKP government bears prime responsibility for the death of these sick prisoners, as it controls the courts and forces them to make political decisions. These seriously sick prisoners might have been alive today if the Forensic Medicine Institution and the courts had allowed their release. The government, which has normalised torture and ill-treatment, has also encouraged the courts to take unlawful and inhuman decisions on sick prisoners.
We once again call upon the Council of Europe – in particular the CPT, the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Monitoring Committee of the PACE, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of European Union External Action, our sister parties, and all other democratic institutions and persons concerned with the rights and health of prisoners to take immediate action to protect sick prisoners’ rights and health.
Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
Co-spokespersons of HDP for Foreign Affairs
17 December 2021