Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) deputy Mustafa Yeneroğlu has called on authorities to immediately investigate allegations of mistreatment in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.
At a press conference in parliament on Tuesday, Yeneroğlu said he had seen photographs of Ferhan Yılmaz, an inmate who died of his injuries after alleged mistreatment in prison, saying he believed the allegations.
“A man named Ferhan Yılmaz died in prison. Although the Directorate General of Prisons and Detention Houses quickly denied claims of mistreatment and said Yilmaz died of a heart attack, photographs clearly show blood in the coffin and his battered body in a hospital bed,” Yeneroğlu said.
Adding that inmates claimed they were taken to padded cells and beaten by guards, Yeneroğlu said the authorities also needed to investigate whether guards used padded cells as a place to beat inmates.
Opposition politicians have previously submitted parliamentary questions regarding the reports of torture in padded cells.
Prison authorities had said that the padded rooms were for inmates with psychological issues, so they would not harm themselves. Since the rooms were padded with foam, they provided sound isolation. Inmates have claimed that these rooms have been used for torture in recent years.
Yeneroğlu emphasized that the state was responsible for protecting inmates and ensuring their well-being. “During their incarceration, inmates deserve to be treated with dignity, and mistreatment is unacceptable,” he said. “However, the Justice and Development Party [AKP] government has not kept their promise to stop mistreatment, and furthermore they are refusing to investigate claims.”
Yılmaz was one of six inmates beaten by prison guards on April 6. The guards reportedly stepped on the inmates heads with their boots and threatened to kill them.
The Human Rights Association (İHD) said there had been claims that two inmates had killed themselves last week after the incident and that they were able to confirm these claims. They demanded that the authorities investigate the deaths and allegations of mistreatment in Silivri Prison.
One of the inmates, Halil Kasan, had told his family during a telephone conversation that the guards continuously taunted them and told them they could provide them with ropes if inmates wanted to kill themselves. “One guard asked me if I had a rope and said I could easily hang myself,” Kasan told his family. “They make prison life unbearable for us, the cells are disgusting, there’s not enough food or beds. We don’t feel safe, and we’re always intimidated by the guards.”
Ill-treatment and torture have become widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers and prisons. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.