Abdurrahim Demir, who has been in prison in Turkey for 23 years, is at risk of death due to his worsening health condition. His wife Nezahat Demir states that the authorities are waiting for his death in prison. She asks: “Is this how the state will destroy what it cannot destroy outside?”
According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are a total of 605 prisoners who are ill in Turkey, of whom 604 have serious health problems. Last year, 50 sick prisoners lost their lives in prisons, and in the first nine months of this year, a total of 38 prisoners, 20 of whom were sick prisoners, died. One of these prisoners who is seriously ill is Abdurrahim Demir.
According to Mesopotamia Agency, Abdurrahim Demir was taken into custody in Okmeydanı in İstanbul on 12 October 1995. He was subjected to severe torture during the thirteen days he was detained. On 25 October 1995, he was arrested by the State Security Court (DGM) on the charge of “breaking the state’s unity” under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). However, the 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court had overturned the aggravated life imprisonment decision on Demir on 10 November 2008. With this decision, the retrial of Demir at the İstanbul 9th High Criminal Court had commenced.
Demir’s lawyers applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) due to the absence of a lawyer while Demir was in custody, the lengthy detention he endured and the torture he was subjected to. Turkey was condemned by ECHR for ‘infringing’ his rights on 19 January 2010 and ECHR recommended Demir’s release.
Demir, who was sentenced to “aggravated life” on 27 December 2012 as a result of the ongoing trial, was re-arrested and imprisoned after the decision was upheld by the higher court. Demir’s health status has worsened due to his imprisonment for 23 years: his kidneys are only functioning at 37% capacity.
Nezahat Demir, his wife, has stated that he has undergone heart surgery and is experiencing serious health problems due to kidney failure. He is 58 years old and she notes that: “His situation is very bad now. Although the hospital says ‘he cannot stay in prison’ given his health condition, he has not been released. The prison administration is waiting for him to die. There is no other explanation for this. This is a great injustice”.
She asks: “How long can someone in this condition live with this disease? What happens if he is infected with Covid-19? During our phone call last week, his voice was very bad. We haven’t been able to even meet each other for a year now. I do not know how bad his situation is. I have not been able to go to see him on an open visit since the pandemic outbreak. Why are they keeping him in prison? Is this how the state will destroy what it cannot destroy outside? Officially, they have left him to die”. Nezahat Demir demands the release of her husband, Abdurrahim Demir, whose condition continues to deteriorate day by day.