Currently imprisoned in Diyarbakır’s D-Type Prison in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır (Amed), seriously ill political prisoner Mehmet Emin Özkan has not been released despite serious health problems he suffers from. Özkan’s health has deteriorated so severely that he has had to be taken to hospital for urgent medical checks on seven occasions since 17 May.
Footage reveals the scandalous mistreatment he has been subjected to: he has been made to walk in hand-cuffs, despite the fact that he can barely stand. In protest, 83-year-old Özkan refused treatment whilst chained to a hospital bed and was returned back to his prison cell.
Fatma Kurtulan, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP’s) MP for Mersin, applied to several related institutions on 20 May for Özkan’s release, but her applications have all been rejected as well. Kurtulan spoke to MA and stated that Turkish authorities are clearly aware of how critical Özkan’s health condition is, yet they have chosen not to act.
“We have applied to the authorities and demanded that his situation is urgently reviewed and acted upon,” she said. “However, he is still taken back and forth between the hospital and prison in handcuffs. That is, Mehmet Emin Özkan is being subjected to serious torture right now.”
Kurtulan criticised the silence of the Turkish authorities, despite their acknowledgment of Özkan’s situation. “There is no one who does not know about his situation. This includes the government and the Ministry of Justice as well. The state knowingly and willingly maintains this situation,” she said.
“In case [Mehmet Emin Özkan] loses his life in such circumstances, the state will be held responsible for his death.”
Kurtulan clarified that almost 60 parliamentary questions had been issued by the HDP that are still awaiting response from the Ministry of Justice. “None of our parliamentary questions has been replied to,” she confirmed.
Özkan was sentenced to prison for life on the grounds of the murder of Bahtiyar Aydın, a Diyarbakır Gendarmerie Regional Commander who was killed on 22 October 1993 in Lice district of Diyarbakır.
Having spent 25 years of his life in jail, Özkan has had a heart attack five times and has had angio operations four times in prison. He suffers from extreme weight loss due to kidney and intestinal disorders and he also has amnesia and loss of sight and hearing. His lawyers and family have been demanding his release on health grounds for years, yet all applications for his release have been rejected by the Turkish authorities.