While thousands of prisoners in overcrowded prisons faces a real risk of infection, Nazif Ataman, the brother of the jailed Kurdish journalist Ziya Ataman, shared information with the newspaper Yeni Yaşam that his brother’s health is so fragile he is at serious increased risk against the spreading coronavirus pandemic and is really struggling in jail.
According to the Human Rights Association (IHD) of Turkey, there are 1,333 ill-prisoners, 457 of whom are seriously ill in Turkish prisons.
One of those ill prisoners is Ziya Ataman, a Kurdish journalist jailed when reporting for Dicle News Agency (DİHA). He was sentenced to 14 years and 3 months in prison. Ataman has been in Van Type M Closed Prison in Turkey’s eastern province of Van (Wan) since 11 April 2016.
Letter to Dr. Cornelia Rohr
Ziya Ataman wrote a letter from prison to diseases specialist Dr. Cornelia Rohr and writer Gül Güzel, informing them of his chronic diseases that he suffers from. Ziya Ataman wrote that he has the symptoms of Covid-19 whilst his other underlying health problems get more serious each day and that his intestines activity has stopped.
“Many of his friends were tested positive for Covid-19 in prison a month ago, but he tested negative. We haven’t heard from him for about a month and a half. We learned that he was taken to the hospital twice. He has a heart disease,” Ziya Ataman’s brother Nazif Ataman said.
Dr. Rohr: “I am concerned about Ziya’s health”
“I am concerned about Ziya’s health,” stated Dr. Rohr regarding Ziya Ataman’s underlying health conditions. Underlining that the symptoms indicate a Covid-19 infection, Dr. Rohr said, “It is also clear that Ziya is in the high risk group due to his chronic diseases. Therefore, Ziya must be immediately released and treated in a hygienic environment.”
Requests for release rejected
”He has been acquitted in almost all of his cases. All of the heavy penalties imposed upon him have been lifted. However, he has still not been released. He is unfairly imprisoned. Everyday he spends in prison, the diseases he has been coping with get more and more serious,” said his brother, Nazif Ataman.
Ziya Ataman’s lawyer, Erselan Aktan noted that Ataman had a heart rhythm disorder and intestinal activity disorder, which has reached a critical level. “However, our requests for immediate release have been unfortunately rejected, on the grounds that prison conditions apparently ‘do not affect his health’.
The doctors prepare such reports based on the view of the ‘execution institutions’, not the medical scientific nature of the diseases. As such, these biased reports become a basis for refusing the release requests of seriously ill-prisoners,” lawyer Aktan said.