Erdal Kotan, the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Pertek District ex-co-Chair has stated that prisoners are being kept in isolation at Elazığ (Xerpêt) High-Security Prison Number One in Turkey. He also criticized the prison administration for not allowing them to receive books.
Kotan was charged with being a member of an organization and was sentenced to a total of eight years and ten months imprisonment: Seven years for ‘membership of a terrorist organization’ and one year and ten months for ‘organization propaganda’. He is currently imprisoned at Elazığ (Xerpêt) High-Security Prison Number One.
Restrictive prison conditions
Kotan described the prison conditions in a letter. When the coronavirus pandemic began, prison authorities in Turkey announced and undertook various measures that affected the prisoners. Concerning restrictions that were in place from March until June, he noted the following: “We can receive visits from only two people per month. In March, we received fifteen books. Then they told us that we would receive new books every month. However, we have not received books for about seven months. Books that were sent by PTT cargo to us were returned. They did not even inform us about that. We have already finished reading the books that are in storage”.
Officials responded to the statements and complaints made by the prisoners at Elazığ (Xerpêt) High-Security Prison Number One. The reason given for not providing books was because of the pandemic, officials noted. Kotan wrote about this in his letter. He stated that no other precautions had been taken in the prison for the coronavirus pandemic apart from this.
He noted that: “We buy cleaning supplies with our own money. Meals served to us are also low in protein. We are not given any healthy food. Going to the hospital is problematic because we are staying in a 14-day quarantine process when we return from the hospital. However, most of the time, two or three people can stay in quarantine in the same room. Even at this stage, no measures are taken. The staff working here do not wear masks. They do not care about such things but they say that they do not give us our books because of the risk of the virus”.
Kotal also noted that the doors were closed at 17.00 every day and they have not been allowed to undertake any social activity in prison: “We are kept in isolation here: we can see each other’s faces only when we are making phone calls. This is the current situation in this prison”.