Two prisoners, Kadri Ekici and Mehmet Yılmaz, died under suspicious circumstances in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır (Amed) and Şanlıurfa (Riha) provinces last week, both assessed to be cases of suicide by authorities.
Ekici had been on year five of a prison sentence over terrorism charges when his body was discovered in his solitary cell on 21 July. His family insists there was foul play, Mezopotamya Agency reported on 24 July.
The prisoner had told his mother in an earlier phone call that he had been receiving threats and that he had been beaten by prison guards to the point of breaking his nose. Ekici was held in extended solitary confinement for nearly a year and denied medication.
“How didn’t the guards see if my son committed suicide? Why didn’t they intervene?” mother Netice Ekici asked.
Ekici had also asked his family for money one day before allegedly committing suicide.
When the family went to collect the body, uncle Aydın Kayar noticed bruising on Ekici’s body. During collection, the guards insulted the family and laughed at them.
In the second known death last week, inmates discovered the body of 25-year-old Mehmet Yılmaz in a communal bathroom in a Şanlıurfa prison. The Şanlıurfa forensic medicine institute ruled the death a suicide.
Ekici and Yılmaz are the most recent known deaths ruled as suicide in Turkey’s prisons. According to a report by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), at least 57 prisoners’ deaths were ruled to be suicide in 2020.