Ailing inmate dies of cancer in Turkish prison

Behçet Kaplan, 31, an inmate who suffered from stomach cancer, died on Monday in in a prison in Turkey’s eastern province of Bitlis, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.

According to MA, Kaplan was sentenced in 2014 to 15 years in prison over alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Kaplan’s health had deteriorated visibly in a short period of time and he had lost a significant amount of weight, but he hadn’t been allowed proper medical treatment, MA said. 

Seventy-three inmates died in Turkish prisons in 2022, according to a report by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights defender Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu.

The report was drafted based on information received by lawyers and families of inmates who died in Turkish prisons. According to the report, 39 prisoners died of serious illness and 34 by suicide.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing seriously ill prisoners so they can seek proper treatment.

Gergerlioğlu previously said critically ill political prisoners were not released from prison “until it reaches the point of no return.” He depicted the deaths of seriously ill prisoners in Turkey who are not released in time to receive proper medical treatment as acts of murder committed by the state.

According to statistics published by the Human Rights Association (İHD), there are 1,517 sick inmates in prisons, 65 of whom are critically ill. Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to free them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society.

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