Family of 65-year-old ailing inmate urges release

Photo: Bianet

The family of Mehmet Darga, a 65-year-old inmate suffering from diabetes and hypertension who has undergone two angioplasty procedures while in prison, is calling on Turkish authorities to grant him release for medical reasons, the Bianet news website reported.

Darga, who has been incarcerated for 32 years, was put in solitary confinement in February for participating in a hunger strike advocating for the release of Abdullah Öcalan and a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse that refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

Öcalan is the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies. Yet, Turkey’s counterterrorism laws are often criticized by human rights groups and legal experts as being overly broad, allowing too much room for interpretation.

Hülya Darga, the prisoner’s wife, expressed deep concern about her husband’s deteriorating health and inability to care for himself.

“My husband’s health is severely compromised. His treatment is inadequate; he is only taken to the hospital when his condition becomes critical. He cannot manage his needs in solitary confinement. If there were someone with him, they could at least assist him. He is struggling immensely on his own,” she said.

Referring to his age and the progression of his illnesses, she added, “He needs to be released immediately. Our community and human rights organizations should stand up for sick prisoners.”

Turkish authorities have been frequently criticized for their systematic disregard of the health problems of political prisoners.

In recent years, many inmates have died of their illnesses either behind bars or shortly after their belated release.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), there were 1,517 sick inmates in Turkish detention facilities as of December 2022, 651 of whom were critically ill. 

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