13 inmates died in Turkish prisons in the first 3 months of this year, says opposition MP

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said on Monday that 13 inmates had died in Turkish prisons in the first three months of the year.

In a social media post Gergerlioğlu said 11 of these deaths had occurred under suspicious circumstances. “I have investigated the circumstances surrounding these deaths,” he tweeted. “While some inmates have died due to a lack of access to medical services, others are said to have taken their own lives.”

Gergerlioğlu said a more thorough investigation was needed to determine if inmates had really died as a result of suicide, or whether they were a coverup for mistreatment. Moreover, inmates dying of health problems were regarded as completely normal by prison administrations, which Gergerlioğlu found extremely worrying.

“Prison deaths are worryingly high in Turkish prisons. What is incredibly concerning is that deaths as a result of ‘medical neglect’ are considered completely normal. Nobody cares about the circumstances that lead inmates to take their own lives,” he said.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

Gergerlioğlu had previously called on Turkish authorities to respond to his parliamentary questions on the deaths of inmates, citing the cases of Abdo Baran, Nusret Muğla, Yusuf Bekmezci, Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, Garibe Gezer and Nesrin Gençosman.

Last year, Gergerlioğlu said the ministry has not replied to 175 parliamentary questions on cases in Turkish prisons since the appointment of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on January 29, 2022.

In previous years other opposition politicians have pointed out the high number of prison deaths in Turkish prisons. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Veli Ağbaba in a parliamentary speech made in 2017 said 215 prisoners died every year. Once again, a lack of access to healthcare and inmate suicides had come up as the leading cause of deaths in prisons.

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