May 09 2018

'Torture, ill-treatment has become a norm in Turkish prisons'

Reports on ill-treatment and torture of prisoners in Turkey are pouring in, detailing the severe conditions effecting mothers with newborn babies in particular.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a website affiliated with the Gülen Movement, reported that Turkish businessman Ali Hocaoğlu, who had been in pre-trial detention for more than a year on charges of links to the movement, had died of cancer. 

Jailed as part of an investigation into Gülen followers in April 2017, it said Hocaoğlu was taken from prison to a hospital a month ago due to his deteriorating health.  Hocaoğlu’s father, İsmail Hocaoğlu, is also in pre-trial detention in the same prison facing on similar charges, the website said.

It reported that Halime Gülsu, a teacher arrested on Feb. 20, 2018 on charges of links to the Gülen movement, died in prison last month after failing to receive medication she required for lupus erythematosus.

Halime Gülsü
Halime Gülsü


Savaş Uyar, a 41-year-old accountant in northern Turkey, had lost 41 kg during months of pre-trial detention, due to medical problems, the website said.

According to Turkey Purge, a monitoring website affiliated with the same movement, 28 individuals, among whom are police officers, prosecutors and teachers, had been found dead as of April 2017 in Turkish prisons since the failed coup attempt in 2016, causing serious concerns about the fate of thousands of civilians who have been kept in jail in poor conditions across the country.

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There are also reports on the mothers of babies who are imprisoned, on charges of membership of Gülen Movement. SCF said Büneyye Özmen, 29, the mother of a 7-month-old son, had been sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison after being convicted of links to the Gülen movement. Özmen was initially detained in October 2017, hours after she gave birth to her son. She and her baby were released pending trial after being kept in detention for a week then later detained. 

Büneyye Özmen
          Büneyye Özmen


According to the he website there were more than 17,000 women and 700 children in Turkish prisons. 

In several cases, it said, women were detained in the hospital immediately after delivering babies. Many women were detained as they were visiting their imprisoned husbands, it said.

Meanwhile, Arin Rohani, a four-year-old girl from Turkey’s Mersin province suffering from the rare medical condition of microcephaly, is unable to leave Turkey for critical treatment as her parents face a travel ban imposed under the ongoing state of emergency.

In addition microcephaly, Arin also has difficulty speaking and walking, all of which give her a 92-percent disability. One-and-a-half years ago, she received initial treatment at a private hospital in Germany.

“She stayed at the hospital for 25 days. She was only one-and-a-half years old. Following the treatment, we were asked to bring her to the hospital once she turns three. She was supposed to go through related tests and surgery accordingly. Then, my wife and I were dismissed from our jobs. We were barred from going abroad,” Arin’s father Murat Karahan told the leftist Evrensel daily.

Karahan and his wife were working at the municipality of Mersin’s Akdeniz district before they lost their jobs in the post-coup crackdown. Akdeniz Municipality had earlier been taken over by a state-appointed administrator due to the mayor’s alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Both Karahan and his wife were also briefly detained after losing their jobs. “My travel ban was lifted a month ago. My wife’s ban was revoked as well. However, we are still being denied departure from Turkey after we were dismissed by an emergency decree,” Karahan said.

The couple’s plight is not limited only to a ban on their overseas trip. Now that they are unemployed, the father filed an application for support for their disabled child. “Even if a citizen is jailed, his/her spouse or child is entitled to get this support. … But we were told that we would not be provided this service since we were dismissed under an emergency decree,” Karahan said.

“The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centres and prisons have become the norm rather than the exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country in the wake of the coup attempt in July 2016,” the website claimed.

Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Turkish Islamist preacher, is accused of plotting and orchestrating the attempted coup in Turkey in July 15, 2016. The Gülenists and Erdoğan’s government, once political allies, fell out in late 2013 over a series of corruption charges brought by judges linked to the movement against ministers and their relatives.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said 77,081 people were jailed between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement while the Ministry of Justice said 169,013 people had been subject to legal proceedings on coup charges. 

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