Families complain of arbitrary restriction on drinking water in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison

Families of inmates in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, notorious for its high number of political prisoners, complained yesterday on Twitter that inmates’ drinking water was arbitrarily restricted by the prison administration.

According to the Bold Medya news website, during weekly telephone calls to their families, inmates said each prison ward, consisting of 45 men, was allowed to buy ten liters of bottled water a week from the prison commissary.

Bottled water is not provided in the wards – only tainted tap water is — and inmates have to buy bottled water from the commissary. Inmates urged their families to file complaints against the prison administration and make their voices heard on social media.

Last year warden Kahraman Topaloğlu was accused of imposing arbitrary restrictions in order to put psychological pressure on inmates. Topaloğlu restricted the items that inmates are able to buy with their own money from the prison canteen including processed meats and canned food. Inmates said they needed to buy the food because they were given poor-quality meals, especially meat.

Some inmates submitted petitions complaining of arbitrary restrictions, which in turn led the prison administration to pressure them even more.

The amount of toilet paper each ward could use was also restricted to five rolls a week for 30-40 inmates.

Nurcan Şener, whose son was a former military cadet incarcerated for allegedly participating in an abortive putsch in July 2016, said the new limitation was ordered by the warden. “How is ten liters of water a week supposed to be enough for 45 men?” she demanded.

Emine Karahaliloğlu, the mother of another former cadet, said the inmates were forced to drink tap water that was not sanitary. “Istanbul’s water is not suitable for drinking; however, our children are forced to drink from the tap just because prison administration wants it that way,” she said.

A total of 259 military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted a year after they were put in pretrial detention, and their trial was concluded in May 2018.

One hundred seventy-eight of the cadets were given life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by use of force as well as membership in a terrorist organization.

The cadets say they didn’t know a coup attempt was underway and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

The military coup attempt killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand. Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

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