The Human Rights Association (İHD) Ankara Branch held a panel entitled “The struggle for human rights, pressures and new searches” during International Human Rights Week. IHD Co-Chair Eren Keskin, Journalist Ali Duran Topuz and Journalist Gökçer Tahincioğlu shared their views during the panel discussion with other human rights defenders.
Eren Keskin was the first to speak. Pointing out that 4 detainees died during Human Rights Week alone in Turkey, Keskin said, “Both isolation and the ATK reports have caused these deaths, 1,605 sick prisoners are living abandoned to their fate by the ATK reports.”
During 1990’s, unidentified murders and deaths from torture in prisons was a common policy of the state against Kurdish people who were resisted against Turkish state oppression. Some of the trials of that period are still ongoing. Keskin, as a witness of the period and who is also one of the lawyers of these trials, compares those days with today:
“They cannot commit many murders as easily as they did in the 90s, not because the state has changed. The state of mind still continues but there is the impact of social media. ” Keskin adds:
“The 1990s are not over and still continues. No killer or torturer is tried or punished. Therefore, no change has happened, it still continues.”
Lawyer Keskin also highlighted the recent suspicious death of Kurdish political prisoner Garibe Gezer in the Kandıra Prison in Turkey’s western Kocaeli province on 9th of December. Garibe would say from prison that she was raped and tortured by prison guards and demanded support.
“Garibe Gezer and her family have a very tragic story. One of her brothers was murdered during the Kobane protests. Her other brother is shot on the way to search for his brother and remains paralyzed. Her other brother and Garibe are also arrested. Garibe tried to make herself heard by writing letters to various places regarding her bad situation, pressure and isolation she was exposed to in prison but the state authorities did not respond to the applications of deputies for her.”
Keskin speaks about the letters Garibe Gezer wrote to lawyers from prison and in particular in reference to an earlier suicide attempt.
“She wrote a letter to us as well. They do not believe the state would help them. In one of those letters Garibe said ‘you asked my family if I had psychological problems, no, I did it consciously because my rights will be defended only after I die’.”
Eren Keskin also talked about the violations of rights in Turkey’s prisons highlighting the unreliability of Forensic Medicine Institution reports.
“Only Forensic Medicine reports are accepted as evidence. However, Forensic Medicine is a state institution, official expert, completely dependent on political will. For this reason, it’s about torture being a state policy. Unfortunately, there are many terminally ill prisoners. Forensic Medicine gives a report to all of them that they can stay in prison. There are 1,605 sick prisoners and they are abandoned to their fate by Forensic Medicine reports. Unfortunately, deaths in prison are increasing because of these reports. During human rights week alone, four ill prisoners have lost their lives.”