Doors locked, no emergency plan in effect at Silivri prison following quake - opposition MP

Inmates at Istanbul’s maximum-security Silivri Prison were denied requests for the ward doors to remain unlocked in case of an emergency on the night of the earthquake in Istanbul last week, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Ülkü Çakırözer said.

Eight people were injured on Thursday when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Istanbul, causing buildings to shake, children to be rushed out of schools, and people to sleep in the streets of Turkey’s largest city of 16 million.

The CHP deputy, who visited the prison following the earthquake, was told by jailed journalists, writers and civil society figures alike that their request to keep doors unlocked was denied, independent news site Bianet reported.

Officials cited lack of permission from the Ministry of Justice, it said.

The Silivri Prison, located about 60 miles from Istanbul, is the largest maximum-security facility in Europe and holds 22,700 inmates, including Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, opposition CHP lawmaker Eren Erdem, and journalist Ahmet Altan.

Neither the Ministry of Justice nor the prison administration has an emergency plan for evacuation in the event of an earthquake, high-profile inmates of Silivri told Çakırözer.

Silivri prison became a household name following the July 2016 coup attempt. Since the failed putsch, some 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial in a widespread crackdown that has taken in government opponents of all shades.