The Turkish judicial system fails to provide basic healthcare for its seriously ill prisoners. Concerning the case of Serdar Yıldırım, despite being paralysed in prison and unable to move or take care of himself on his own, he has not been released on the grounds of constituting a “threat to society”.
Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) has reported that the appalling conditions in prisons have actually worsened since the beginning of the pandemic.
The prison administrations have reportedly used the pandemic as an excuse to increase prison isolation measures. Prisoners face increased and more pronounced health risks and do not have any access to proper treatment and basic needs of clean food and water. For seriously ill prisoners like 28-year-old Serdar Yıldırım, the situation has deteriorated even further.
Yıldırım, whose body from the waist down was paralyzed even before he was jailed, was arrested in 2018. A court sentenced Yıldırım to nine years and seven months in prison on charges of “being a member of a [terrorist] organisation”. He has since been imprisoned in Metris Closed Prison in Istanbul.
Unable to live or look after himself on his own, Yıldırım was placed in a solitary confinement cell for over a month Although his situation is getting worse each day, the attempts by his family to have him released have been rejected by the judicial authorities, according to Jin News.
“They see him, a person who is 98% paralysed, as a ‘threat to the state’: what kind of logic is that?”, asked his mother Fatma Izrak. The background to Serdar Yıldırım’s arrest reveals that he was arrested and questionably imprisoned over the claims of a witness, his mother states. “After a fight over land, they beat Serdar, then put him in the trunk of a car and brought him to the police station in Derik. ‘We brought you a terrorist’, they told the police”, she said.
Fatma Izrak witnessed her son being tortured by the police
During his trial, the family’s house was raided on several occasions by the police. Recalling those days, Fatma Izrak states that she had to witness her son being tortured by the police many times. “The police were asking him to stand up, but they did not believe us when we were telling them that he was paralysed”, she said. “Now he is in prison and there is platinum all over his body. When he was taken to the hospital, the doctor said to him that the platinum in him was broken, but they did not treat him. On the other hand, my son had had abdominal surgery and he got infected after that”.
A medical report prepared by Turkey’s Forensic Medicine Institute has documented how serious Yıldırım’s health condition is. It has suggested that he should be released but the Turkish penal system refuses to release him, in complete disregard of the recommendations made by medical experts.
‘They have been keeping my son behind bars with no evidence’
“They have been keeping my son behind bars with no evidence. I have not been able to sleep properly for the past three years. As a mother, I want all the sick prisoners to be released”, she said. “I can assure you that my son constitutes no harm to society. How can he? How can someone who cannot eat by himself, who cannot wear his clothes and even put on his socks, harm society? My son is now all alone in the cell. He says he can’t meet his care needs: he can’t even clean himself. I am appealing to everyone: take action for the seriously ill prisoners”.