73-year-old inmate dies of cancer shortly after his release

Ehettin Kaynar, 73, succumbed to cancer on Sunday in eastern Turkey’s Iğdır province, two months after he was belatedly released from prison despite his deteriorating health, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Kaynar had been serving a life sentence since April 2021 on conviction of “disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the country” and membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Kaynar and his family strongly denied the accusations leveled against him.

Kaynar’s health began to dramatically deteriorate in May, and he was admitted in late July to an Ankara hospital, where he was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer. Following the diagnosis, he was transferred from a prison in Turkey’s northern Karabük province to Ankara Sincan Prison, which has a hospital on campus.

However, his health continued to deteriorate, and Kaynar’s family and lawyer sent his hospital reports to the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) requesting his release. Kaynar was given six months to recover outside of prison by the ATK, and he was released on September 2.

Speaking to Mezpotamya after his release, Kaynar said, “There are hundreds of patients in prison who are not treated well and are in a miserable state. Even the prison hospital where I was treated in Ankara stopped accepting inmates and said there was no more room for them.”

Kaynar died on Sunday and was buried in his village in Iğdır on Monday. His son Alihan Kaynar said he had lost more than 60 kilos during his time in prison.

Opposition deputies and activists have repeatedly drawn attention to the plight of critically sick prisoners. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return. He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals or infirmaries.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) İstanbul lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu recently stated that there were close to 1,600 sick prisoners in Turkey, of whom 600 were seriously ill. Although most of them had forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they were not released or they were released when they were about to die. The authorities refuse to free them until the last possible moment on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society.

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