The Turkish Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) reported that the imprisoned former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Aysel Tuğluk, who has been diagnosed with dementia, has “full criminal liability”, despite continuous calls from various human rights organisations for her immediate release.
Women activists also initiated a campaign in January for Tuğluk in which thousands of women from all around the world joined in solidarity to sign an appeal that called for the immediate release of the prominent Kurdish politician who has been incarcerated in Turkey since December 2016.
The 25-page report, dated 4 February, said that Tuğluk had been diagnosed with ‘mild cognitive impairment’. The report did not express an opinion as to whether Aysel Tuğluk is in fit state to remain in prison.
Tuğluk’s trial was referred to the ATK after lawyers requested her release, stating that she was seriously ill and that she had been “diagnosed with dementia,” and that it was “not possible for her to remain in prison alone”.
The ATK completed its report and sent it to the court. They said that Tuğluk had been under observation between 1 and 4 February. The court will review the report and decide on the request for early release, but in the light of the ATK report a release order is not expected.
20 pages full of accusations
The first 20 pages of the 25-page report only contain a list of the charges against Tuğluk in the indictment in the Kobani Case. The next two pages list the medical reports since her arrest in 2016, from hospitals in Kocaeli and the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute, and only the last three pages contain results of the examinations carried out by the ATK.
The ATK is committing a crime
Activists from “1000 Women for Aysel Tuğluk” campaign reacted immediately to the report, saying “The ATK is committing a crime.”
Aysel Tuğluk’un ağır hastalığına ilişkin yetkili sağlık kurumlarının “cezaevinde kalamaz” raporlarının dikkate alınması, hukuka, insan haklarına uygun bir karar vermesi gerekirken #AdliTıpSuçİşliyor ATK, bugün verdiği raporla Aysel’in yaşamını hiçe sayarak siyasi bir karar verdi pic.twitter.com/gi3s3Rl9bK
— Aysel Tuğluk İçin 1000 Kadın (@BinlerceAysel) February 15, 2022
“The ATK issued a political decision with its report today, with total disregard for Aysel’s life, despite the existence of various medical reports regarding her severe illness that say she is ‘unfit to remain in prison’. The ATK is committing a crime,” they said.
The Lawyers for Democracy (DİH) also issued a statement on its Twitter account regarding the report.
“The report is superficial. The Forensic Medicine Institution has not provided a decision as to whether Tuğluk is able to defend herself, although this was requested. So the decision of the ATK, which does not answer the court’s question regarding defence and does not evaluate her condition, whether she is fit to remain in prison today, is legally meaningless,” DİH stated, adding:
“The Institute has diagnosed her with ‘mild cognitive impairment’. In order for an individual to defend herself, she needs to have full cognitive ability and will. The medical assessments and findings in the report show that it would not be suitable for Aysel Tuğluk to remain in prison on the grounds of her state of health. The execution of her sentence must be halted due to these medical findings and she must be released immediately.”
— Demokrasi İçin Hukukçular (@DiHukukcular) February 15, 2022
Aysel Tuğluk was arrested along with seven other politicians on 29 December 2016, when she was deputy co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). She is held in Kocaeli F-Type Prison. She has been in prison for nearly five years, having been sentenced to ten years on a charge of being a “leader of a [terrorist] organisation” in 2018.