81-year-old ailing Kurdish woman’s parole applications denied five times

Hanife Arslan

Hanife Arslan, an ailing 81-year-old Kurdish woman serving a more than six-year sentence for alleged membership in a terrorist organization, has been denied parole five times despite suffering from several chronic health problems, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Imprisoned in the province of Van, Arslan is battling asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure and finds it increasingly difficult to live independently.

Reyhan Ören, Arslan’s daughter, expressed her fears following the latest denial of parole last month. “As a family, we fear another rejection. What needs to happen for a sick and elderly woman to be released? Does she have to die in prison? ” she asked.

Ören highlighted her mother’s deteriorating health, stating, “She relies on the help of her fellow inmates to take care of herself. Yesterday, she told my brother over the phone that she was having difficulty breathing. She needs to be released without further delay. She has about six months left on her sentence.”

Arslan was jailed in 2022 after her prison sentence of more than six years on terrorism-related charges was upheld.

She was put on trial over her activism for a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority regions, according to family members who spoke to the media.

A hospital in eastern Turkey issued a report in February that said Arslan was fit to remain behind bars.

Medical institutions frequently come under criticism over their questionable reports that find ailing inmates fit to remain in prison. Rights advocates slam the institutions as well as the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), an agency consulted for its expertise in the cases of sick prisoners, over their lack of independence from political influence and their role in compounding the persecution of political prisoners.

Every year, rights groups report the death of dozens of sick prisoners, either while behind bars or shortly after their belated release, which often comes at the end-stage of their illnesses.

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