Prison conditions continue to be one of the most important problems in Turkey as calls from various human rights organisations are left unanswered by the authorities.
Silivri Prison, officially Silivri Penitentiaries Campus, is a high-security state correctional institution complex in the Silivri district of Istanbul province in Turkey. Officials try to conceal the conditions in this prison from public scrutiny, but the latest statement from a detainee reveals that prisoners are subjected to numerous rights violations there.
Halil Ay, a political prisoner at the prison, told his mother in a phone call that around 20 detainees are sleeping on cardboard, hot water is cut off during bath time, and the food provided is always cold, MA reports.
Halil Ay is a Kurdish political prisoner who was detained in Istanbul on 1 April 2017, and formally arrested after nine days in custody. He has been held in Silivri prison since that time. The ward that he is held in at Silivri Prison No.5 was raided by guards for no reason, and since then around 20 detainees have been sleeping on cardboard.
Halil’s mother Semra Ay speaks about her phone call with her son:
“Halil was distraught. When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Mum, we’re in a terrible condition here. They’re not giving us beds and 20 of us have been sleeping on cardboard for the last three days. The matresses and blankets they have given us are dirty and smelly, so we can’t use them. They won’t let us wash them. When we go to the bathroom, they cut off the hot water. They bring cold meals and they kick them at us with their feet.'” She continues: “My son told me that he was hit against the ward door with a chair and the guards insulted them saying ‘terrorists, supporters of terrorists”.
Halil also told his mother that sick prisoners are not provided any proper treatment or medicine in the prison.
“My son asked us to publicise these rights violations on the outside, they want support from outside,” she stated.
Semra also speaks about unlawful decisions taken by the prison administration.
“When he was taken to the new ward, they didn’t take my son’s coat or his friend’s shoes, saying ‘these are forbidden’. I sent another coat, and they refused to take it. This is forbidden, that is forbidden. If they would tell us what’s not forbidden, I would take that there, but they don’t.”
Noting that pressure is being applied not only detainees but also to families, Semra continued:
“They mistreat us when we go to visit. If we answer back, they stop the visit. Some mothers who come to see their children don’t speak Turkish, they’re abused for not knowing Turkish. For example, a mother from Mardin (Merdin) came and she couldn’t not speak Turkish. The guards said, “Undo your clothes for a search”. The mother couldn’t respond because she didn’t speak Turkish, so we translated into Kurdish. But the guards tried to stop us, saying, “Mind your own business.” Then they insulted the woman. The guards said, “Why don’t you speak Turkish, if they don’t speak Turkish, why do they come here?”
Semra states that prison officials insult them by calling them terrorists.
“Our only crime is that we are Kurds. Wherever we go, they call us terrorists and mothers of terrorists. Once when I went to see my son, they didn’t let me see him. I waited for two hours. Finally I asked, ‘Where’s my son? Why don’t you bring him?’ The warden said to me, “Your son is a terrorist and you are a terrorist.” And I said, ‘If I’m a terrorist, you’re a man of the state. Get up an do your duty, there’s a terrorist in front of you.’ So they threw me out. ”
Semra calls for support: “It is because we’re Kurds that we get all these insults and pressures. I appeal to all the parents; Come out and defend the rights of your children. I call on all the families to be the voice of prisoners.”