Books sent to a prisoner in the Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison were returned because they were written in the Kurdish language.
Fatma Akaltun, the director of the Marmara Prisoner and Convicted Families Association (MA-TUHAYDER) and also the visitor of inmate Reyhan Coşmuşlu, spoke to Özgür Politika about the ban on Kurdish books and the increasingly bad conditions in prisons.
‘Kurdish books should be translated into Turkish’
Akaltun, a regular visitor to Reyhan Coşmuşlu for about three years, said, “When I gave the books to the prison administration, they accepted them without saying anything. They did not mention the ban. Two weeks later, when I asked the prison staff if the books were given, they said that they were not. When I asked why, they said that the books were in Kurdish, and they should be translated into Turkish. It is forbidden to give books that have not been translated into Turkish”.
‘Isolation must be ended as soon as possible’
“I stayed in prison for four months, and the prison conditions were very bad in every sense”, said Akaltun. “There are many injustices and unlawful practices in prisons, such as the attitudes of prison staff, the constant searching of cells, sudden raids, and taking property without any justification. These problems have increased during the pandemic. Many prisoners cannot go to the hospital. If they go, they are exposed to isolation. The prisoners are on a hunger strike now. Their basic demand is to end the İmralı isolation. The state and the public should not remain silent”.
‘We need to raise awareness in the public’
Akaltun continued: “We need to raise awareness in the public. It should not end with the reactions of prisoners’ families. We shouldn’t be silent. If one remains silent, everyone will be silent. Those who say that they are revolutionaries, democrats or human beings should speak up and contribute. We will end these anti-democratic practices together”.