Mücella Yapıcı (71), who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi trial on 25 April, wrote to the daily Birgün saying that she was recently taken to a dentist where she was still handcuffed when she had a tooth taken out.
Yapıcı explained that due to various chronic diseases she had been taken to hospital five times since her incarceration.
In her letter, she said: “The first time I and 14 other women prisoners around my age or older were taken to hospital, we were put under the ‘protection’ of armed gendarmerie and their commanders, in a prison vehicle with two compartments, each 1.5m by 1.8m. We were handcuffed, of course (…)
“We began to stroll in single file in the hospital grounds accompanied by armed gendarmes. I almost burst into laughter as we, a group of elderly women (some of whom could hardly even walk), tried to keep up with the officer who walked at quite a fast pace in front of us. We were constantly warned to ‘keep in line’. Considering the recent state of public hospitals, there were naturally a lot of patients waiting around, who were watching. They stared at us, some with pity, some with fear (…)
“Now I’d like to give you a few details of [one of] the medical examinations I had. The first one was at the retina clinic in Beyoğlu Eye Hospital, where I was taken because of a serious eye condition I have. Myself in handcuffs, and an accompanying team of gendarmes and a prison guard entered a room where there were four doctors and five or six patients. The young woman doctor, bless her, told me that I could sit down while she was examining another patient. I sat crossed-legged automatically since there is no other way I can sit in a high chair. The armed gendarme who was guarding me, young enough to be my son, spoke roughly to me: ‘|Put those legs of yours down!’ (…)
“We come to the latest incident. Although I had thought never to go to hospital again, I had to consent to another visit because of my terrible tooth ache (…)
“This time, I tried really hard to get examined without handcuffs on, and in the presence only of the health worker. I spoke calmly, making references to articles of the regulations.
“I spoke about all the rules of ethics and rights that I had memorised, but to no avail. The gendarme commander with me actually understood and was very respectful. But my younthful doctor sat me down in handcuffs, and extracted my tooth. Bless him, he saved me from that tooth; and in a way a part of me was released as well.
“But in spite of all my reminders and objections, he went on to say, ‘I treat all prisoners this way.’
“When I slid down the chair during the treatment, he asked me to resume my position. ‘How am I to do that?’ I said, showing him my handcuffs. ‘Just get down first, then climb up again’ he said by way of advice.”
Yapıcı is an architect, who had been a senior official in the Union of Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers. She is 71 years old. She is one of the leading members of the urban ecology group Taksim Solidarity, which took part in the resistance action against the destruction of Gezi Park near Taksim Square in Istanbul in 2013.
She was sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi trial for ‘aiding attempts to overthrow the elected government’, alongside six other defendants, and the businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment for ‘attempting to overthrow the elected government.’