A court in Ankara on 28 June forced jailed Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk to take the stand in her hearing where she faces terrorism charges despite the Kurdish politician’s widely reported declining health and advanced condition of dementia.
While testifying, Tuğluk had difficulty even confirming her identity and was often confused, making comments such as, “Did I do that? Was that me?”
Tuğluk has been the subject of several medical reports stating that she is not fit to remain behind bars. “But in its latest report, Turkey’s Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) concluded that Tuğluk could both stay in prison and submit a partial defence,” said lawyer Hatice Ezgi Güngördü.
‘Partial defence’ is not even a concept recognised by Turkish law, she added. “We petitioned the court for her release, but they insisted on her appearance to testify via a video call from the prison.”
It is a human rights violation for the court to force Tuğluk to testify, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) İstanbul representative Ümit Efe said.
Efe added that Tuğluk’s imprisonment constitutes a long-term human rights violation and can be considered as torture.
According to the politician’s brother, her memory has declined severely.
Women from Turkey and 53 other countries launched a campaign under the name ‘1000 Women for Aysel Tuğluk’ in March, calling for Tuğluk’s immediate release. Signatories have since surpassed 6,300, and include prominent feminists such as Silvia Federici and Angela Davis.