Nuray Çevirmen, a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Human Rights Association (İHD) in Turkey, spoke to Jinnews about the human rights situation in Turkey, violations of rights in prisons, and the ongoing hunger strikes against the İmralı Prison isolation conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Çevirmen stated that violations of the right to peaceful protest inTurkey have increased in recent years, especially during the pandemic, and restrictions have been imposed on all public demonstrations ever since the introduction of the state of emergency laws.
Commenting on the ongoing financial crisis in Turkey Çevirmen said: “The pandemic process has enabled us to observe the violations of rights in different spheres of daily life. We have lots of applicants reporting to the İHD regarding the economic difficulties they face. This is a new phenomenon for us. This shows us that people suffer too much due to economic distress”.
Prisons are amongst the places where violations have taken their most intense form, he observed: “There was a hunger strike initiative that was launched in 2018. Over 3,000 political prisoners went on hunger strike to protest against the prison isolation conditions imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan. As a consequence of the hunger strikes, Abdullah Öcalan was allowed to contact his lawyers and his family for a brief period. Soon after, however, all of the applications to contact him that were made by his family and his lawyers were again denied. That is why the prisoners have again declared a hunger strike”.
Çevirmen stated that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) had made assessments regarding the situation in İmralı Prison in its 2017 and 2019 reports: “The reports also reflect the violations taking place in İmralı Prison. If the issues identified in the CPT’s report were to be resolved, these problems would disappear as well”.
Human rights violations in Turkey
According to the annual report of the İHD, law enforcement officers intervened in 1,344 meetings and demonstrations and 3,935 people were subjected to mistreatment during these interventions in 2019.
At least 69 people lost their lives and four people were injured in prisons due to illnesses, suicides or acts of violence. At least seventeen people died suspiciously and five people were injured during their mandatory military service.
The İHD report also revealed that three people, including one child, lost their lives and two children were injured after being shot by bullets fired from the vehicles of security forces. Three people, including two children, lost their lives and five people, including 2 children, were injured by explosions from mines and unexploded ordnance.
“According to the data of the Ministry of Justice, released on 31 December 2002, there were 59,429 inmates in prisons, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power. This prison population had increased to 294,000 inmates in 355 prisons by December 2009”, the İHD report revealed.
There are 3,100 child inmates in prisons in Turkey. A total of 780 children have remained in jail due to their imprisoned mothers. 197 journalists were arrested. A total of 6,068 people were subjected to torture, ill-treatment or inhumane treatment whilst eight people were killed in unsolved murders in Turkey in 2019.
The İHD report also highlighted the fact that at least 431 women were killed due to the violence of men and 359 women were injured. At least 499 women were subjected to harassment or rape whilst 726 women were subjected to violence in 2019 in the country. Women continued to be subjected to violence in Turkey in 2019 in large numbers..
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