Prisoners in Turkey are being denied their right to conditional release, with the authorities producing absurd grounds to justify this, according to letters received by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Gazete Duvar reported.
As a result of this, prison sentences are being arbitrarily extended, Ayşe Sürücü, HDP MP for the southeastern province of Urfa told Gazete Duvar.
Using too much water and singing songs in Kurdish are among the reasons cited by authorities to strip prisoners of their right to conditional release, she said.
Sürücü said she had received hundreds of letters from prisoners complaining of similar treatment. On one occasion, a prison monitoring board denied the application of Rojda Erez for conditional release, saying she had killed her spouse 15 years ago and could harm others if freed.
“However, Rojda Erez never married. She is not in prison for killing her spouse, she is a political prisoner Erez applied to the board once more, saying that she had never married and her file must have been somehow mixed with another file. They told her there was no mix-up,” Sürücü explained.
Another prisoner was denied conditional release on the grounds that her brother was in jail for membership of the religious group the Turkish government holds responsible for the failed coup of 2016. “Can you believe such a justification? What happened to the principle of individual criminal responsibility?” Sürücü asked.
“Monitoring boards in Turkey’s prisons are manipulating sentencing arbitrarily, preventing prisoners with the right to conditional release from actually being released. They are doing this on completely irrelevant, impossible grounds. They say things like, ‘they left the lights on’ or ‘they chat with friends’,” said the MP.
According to the Council of Europe’s statistics for 2021, Turkey has the second highest prison population among member countries after Russia, with 212,115 people in prison.