Mehmet Aslan, a Mesopotamia Agency reporter spent six months in Antalya L Type Prison and was released on 26 May.
Aslan shared that the things that he was mainly accused of were based on his journalistic activities such as phone records of his conversations with his news sources. The actual content of his news were also used against him by the prosecution, MA reports.
”I personally witnessed the reality of the news I have covered in prison after my arrest. I have previously reported on the psychological pressures and even the physical violence experienced by prisoners, but now I have personally witnessed such incidents in prison,” Aslan said.
Aslan was subjected to “strip-searches”, which has been denied the the Turkish authorities.
“On the first day I was arrested, I was subjected to an unlawful strip-search,” he said and added, ”Health and communication rights of prisoners are often blatantly ignored. I have reported many problems of the prisoners in having access to healthy food, living in unhygenic conditions and being denied their right to access medical services. When I was in prison, I saw that such problems are still ongoing.”
Aslan portrayed the conditions in the prison he was held with the following words: “Hot water was provided for only one and a half hours during the day. There were 20 people staying in one ward. How can 20 people have a shower in 90 mins? And in some other wards, this number reached up to 40 people. Many prisoners, therefore, are not able to have a shower during the day.
“We lived under such circumstances during the pandemic, when hygene is the most critical issue.We were not supplied with enough cleaning products, as well. They just hand you a glass of laundry bleach and a glass of liquid hand soap.”
Aslan has a skin disease, due to which he has to take certain pills in a disciplined manner.
“My medication was not given to me for fifteen days. My illness got worse because of that. It is a torture-like attitude the prison administration takes against the prisoners. I was held alone in a five-square-metre cell for fifty-three days,” he said.
Aslan also shared information about the ban on personal letters in Kurdish. ”Some letters were sent back by the prison administration without reasons. Our letters written in Kurdish were either never given or were given to us after a long time. And the grounds given for that was: ‘There is no one working in the institution speaking Kurdish to read the letters.’ In a country where millions of people speak Kurdish, that was the reason they gave us,” he said.
Underlining that he was arrested due to reporting violations of human rights in prisons, Aslan added that he had witnessed much more severe violations of human rights in prison than he had previously reported on in his news.
“In order to prevent these violations from getting reported in the media, they confiscate our cameras, they try to intimidate us and they imprison us as journalists,” he said.
“We will not remain silent regarding the violations of any rights. We will not give up on announcing the violations of human rights to the general public.”