A heatwave across southern Europe has led to wildfires across the Mediterranean. Wildfires raging in Turkey’s Mediterranean towns for weeks have burned down forests and some settlements, forcing locals and tourists to evacuate. Villages and tourist destinations have been affected.
Even though wildfires are known to be common in Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean regions during the summer months, Turkey has accused the outlawed-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of being responsible for the wildfires. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated at a press conference on 21 July that they were “considering the possibility of sabotage” being the cause of the fires.
“There is no truth in any of the news claiming that the fires had been ignited by Kurds or by the PKK. All such news is a fabrication of the special war,” said the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) in a written statement on 5 August.
As ‘Kurds’ have been targeted through such fear-inducing propaganda and smear campaigns, sections of society have been influenced by these negative portrayals and become openly aggressive towards Kurdish citizens, especially in the prisons.
Prisoners in Elaziğ Prison No. 1, located in the city of Elazığ (Eleziz) in Turkey, have been subjected to physical attacks by the prison guards who have accused them of being responsible for the wildfires, ANF reports.
Baran Barış Korkmaz, a Kurdish political prisoner in Elazığ Prison, showed the bruises on his body during a prison visit by his family on Monday. He told his family that along with some other prisoners, he was tortured by the guards, who used violence on them using the forest fires as a pretext.
“We are subjected to torture by the guards, who use the forest fires as a pretext to attack us. A sick friend of ours was told by the guards, ‘Your people ignited the forests!’ when they were taking him to the prison infirmary. His whole body was covered in bruises due to the torture. Guards inflicted torture on another friend, taking him out of his cell,” Korkmaz’s family quoted him as saying.
Korkmaz described how he was brutally attacked by the guards. “They also came to my cell, asking me to get out, giving me no reason at all for this. So I refused to leave. Then, they stormed my cell and tortured me. They jammed my hand in the loophole.”
“Our lives are at risk,” he told his family. “We fear for our lives. Our friends are in a bad state of health.”