Rights violations in Turkish prisons have been increasing signiﬁcantly day by day. As a result of this, prisoners’ problems have grown exponentially, as confirmed by the statements of those being released.
Speaking to Jin News, newly released Sevil Karaaslan defines the situation in prisons with the following words.
”Killing us, maybe not physically, but mentally,”
”The situation of sick prisoners is one of the most important issues regarding prisons,” she says.
There are hundreds of seriously sick prisoners in Turkey who are not receiving adequate medical care, and who are issued medical reports saying ”cannot be in jail for health reasons”, despite which the authorities refuse to release them.
Sevil addresses the unlawful deprivation of detainees’ rights to adequate medical care. ”There are too many sick prisoners who are not receiving proper treatment, and who suffer from different chronic diseases as a direct result of prison conditions. Even if they do go to hospital, the treatment is not adequate. We have friends who have been inside for 28 years. Prison conditions cause their health to deteriorate still further.”
She cites the example of prisoner Fatma Özbay, who was diagnosed with cancer. She notes that Fatma was still kept in overcrowded conditions, and that there were substantial delays in providing her with medicine.
She talks of quarantine practices applied without legal basis. ”There are two quarantine wards in prison and when prisoners return from hospital, they are kept in quarantine for up to 30 days, rather than 15.”
She describes the current restrictions on books in prisons as arbitrary, saying that prisoners have difficulty accessing information from outside and that prisons restrict inmates’ reading. Limiting the number of books makes it difficult for those who want to do research, Sevil says: ”Sometimes we can’t get a book for two months, or not at all. This is a deliberate practice applied specifically against political prisoners .”
”Officials in prison have not allowed any Kurdish books in the prison for three years,” she says. ”Their excuse is that there is no Kurdish translator in İzmir, and so they can’t check the books. It makes no sense, Izmir has a high Kurdish population, they are using this argument as a justification for an arbitrary ban.” Sevil says, ”The officers are afraid of a book which might be found undesirable. The prison hasn’t had books translated for a long time.”
”Prisoners’ contact with their families and lawyers is restricted as a result of the pandemic,” she notes.
Regarding conditions in the prison Sevil adds: ”In the ward, three people were staying in one room and sleeping on the floor. Taps and electrical equipment were broken. It was very dirty.”
“The general attitude of the prison guards was hostile and aggressive. There were also male guards. They searched our underwear with their hands, piece by piece. It was humiliating. It is an attack on our identity both as political prisoners and women.”
She continues: “At last our wards were painted. We painted and cleaned some parts of our ward ourselves. After all, it was our living space. A month later, they put us out of that ward. We were put in a worse, dirtier ward. No sink, broken tap, sexist profanities on the walls. In the last ward I was in, the inmates of two wards were all put together into one ward, there were more than 30 of us. The only undamaged corner of the ward was the video-link system.”