Basic human rights of detainees violated systematically in Turkey’s Hilvan Prison

The detainees have been held in dire conditions and their essential human rights have been violated systematically in Hilvan T1 and T2 prisons in Turkey’s southern Şanlıurfa province, according to a tip reached to the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF).

According to the tip, as in many prisons across Turkey, the occupancy rates in the wards of Hilvan T1 and T2 prisons are far above the capacity. Many people reportedly sleep on floors. The cabinets that have to be private for each prisoner have been shared with more than two prisoners.

As it is well-known the biggest problem in the southern Şanlıurfa province in summer period is extreme hot weather, which is over 45 Celsius degrees most of the time during summer. It has been reported that water and electricity have been frequently cut despite of the extremely crowded population in the wards and extreme heat in the region. According to the tip, at least 20 people have been held in the wards where maximum 8 people should stay. In these conditions, the ventilation fans can not be operated either because the electricity has continuously been cut off.

A prisoner has described the situation as follows: “I would like to give you an example … Electricity has been given at 14:00 o’clock and it has been cut off at 14:10. It has been given again at 15:00 o’clock and cut off at 15:10. This makes us think that the power cuts are intentional.

“There are also serious problems in supplying water to prisoners besides of electricity. When the water cut-off started, first it was said that the water pipes were broken. However, since then water has not been provided even at the long expected visiting hours to meet with family our members.

“Prisoners are not allowed either to have extra water in the ward by buying from canteen. While it is impossible for anyone to use the toilet after it was used by someone else even in an ordinary house without water, it is become life-dangerous to do same thing in a highly crowded prison ward. This situation leads to a risk of all kinds of illness to erupt beside of being an obvious method of mass torture in the prison.

“There are also ongoing announcements for the prison guards through laud speakers day and night. The problem is that these announcements are provided not only in the corridors but also directly in the wards. Because of these continuous announcements, it has been impossible for the detainees to sleep regardless of that is night or day.”

The prisoners also complained about the bad quality of food given to the detainees. They said that despite the extreme heat affecting the region, the foods have been cooked with extremely so much oil and there are no options for detainees other than eating them. The detainees also recorded that they have been given lentil soup continuously for a period of time. It is also stated that the prisoners have difficulties in compensating their malnutrition since the prison canteen has not have much alternatives.

Yeni Asya, Birgün and other critical newspapers have not been allowed in the prison, said the detainees and the use of radio has also been prohibited for those imprisoned over their alleged membership to the Gülen movement, despite the radios are on sold in prison canteen. It is also stated that although there is a library in the prison, very few books are available.

However, the detainees have expressed that the most vital problem they have experienced in regards of non-presence of health services in the prison. The detainees need to wait at least 3 months to get permission to go to a health facility for their medical examinations outside.

A report drafted by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in May 2018 had revealed that the prison population in Turkey has increased by 285 percent during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and that serious human rights violations are taking place in these prisons.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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