A Kurdish political prisoner who had been incarcerated since 1992 and had only five months left to serve has been found dead in prison.
The family of Mehmet Hanifi Bilgin were called on Sunday by the prison administration who told them that Bilgin had been found dead in his cell, and that it had been concluded that he had died of a heart attack.
Bilgin, aged 58, had been serving his prison sentence at an F-type high security prison in Turkey’s northern province of Bolu, some 1,100 km away from his hometown of Bingöl (Çewlîg).
Speaking to Mezopotamya News Agency, brother Veysel Bilgin indicated that Mehmet Hanifi Bilgin had had a heart attack three years earlier. “We were expecting him to be released so that he could finally have medical treatment,” he said.
“My mother had been talking with him on the phone and he said he was to be be released on 27 June. He didn’t say much about the current conditions in prison.”
He added that since his brother had had less than a year to serve, they had applied for parole or transfer to a prison close to his home town, but that their application had been rejected by the authorities.
604 prisoners with serious health conditions in Turkey
According to a recent report by a prison watch panel, consisting of representatives from the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Turkish Foundation of Human Rights (TİHV) and the Association for Solidarity with Families of Prisoners (TUHAYDER), there are currently 1,605 sick prisoners in Turkey, 604 of whom have serious health conditions.
According to the report, 59 sick prisoners died in 2021 alone, seven of them a short time after reviews of their prison sentences had been postponed.
A group of mothers of sick political prisoners arrived in Ankara from various Kurdish-majority provinces on 4 January for meetings with government officials and representatives of political parties and NGOs to demand justice for their sons and daughters. They were dispersed and prevented by the police from walking to the Turkish ministry of justice.