83-year-old ailing Kurdish woman referred to Turkey’s ATK for third time amid health concerns

Makbule Özer

Makbule Özer, an 83-year-old incarcerated Kurdish woman with serious disabilities and health problems, was referred to Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) for the third time following appeals from her lawyers, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Medeni Özer, Makbule’s son, revealed the toll the trips between the prison and the ATK has taken on his mother. “These trips have become a torment for her. She’s already unwell, and this process exhausts her even more.”

Her family and lawyers have been calling for her sentence to be postponed due to health reasons or have her remaining sentence commuted to house arrest. Campaigns on social media have also highlighted her condition and called for her freedom.

Özer, suffers from multiple health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis.

Discussing his mother’s health, Medeni Özer added, “She can only manage to eat a tomato or some fruit if available. But there’s no fruit in the prison canteen. She’s lost her appetite due to being confined, and her face is swollen with red patches.”

Özer is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), She was first arrested in May 2022 along with her husband, 79-year-old Hadi Özer, but was released for medical reasons in September 2022. However, the ATK found her to be fit for imprisonment in a new report issued in November 2023.

Özer has been imprisoned since April 22 despite the requests of her family and lawyers.

The ATK frequently comes under criticism over its questionable reports that find ailing inmates fit to remain in prison. Rights advocates slam the agency over its lack of independence from political influence and its 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.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!