Pro-government Turkish columnist receives jail term for torture comments

A Turkish pro-government columnist said on Wednesday she had been given a 105-day prison sentence for saying torture in a prison in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country in the 1980s, which the government admits took place, was one of the reasons for the rise of a Kurdish armed group that has fought for self-rule in the region since that time.

During the period of military rule following Turkey’s 1980 military coup, thousands of Kurds were sent to Diyarbakır prison where they were subjected to torture.

Nagehan Alçı wrote in her column for the HaberTürk newspaper that she had been sentenced due to comments she made on a television programme, in which she said, “horrifying acts of torture took place” at the prison and this was one of the reasons why the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had gained so much power in the region.

The court found Alçı guilty of aiding a terrorist organisation.

More than 40,00 people, most of them Kurds, have been killed in fighting between security forces and the PKK, which began its armed campaign in 1984.

“There are jokes about the janissary band and Turks; both take two steps forward and one step back,” Alçı said in an apparent criticism of the court verdict, which has yet to be enforced.

“The state, on the one hand, has formally accepted the heavy and disgusting torture against our Kurdish citizens in Diyarbakır prison, even apologising for it. On the other hand, it protects the viewpoint which turns a blind eye to inmates being forced to eat faeces and drink urine everyday,” she said.

The courts should not stop with me, Alçı said, “they should sentence Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said he would turn the Diyarbakır prison into a museum.”