Garibe Gezer, an inmate who alleged that she was beaten and sexually harassed by prison guards in Kocaeli’s Kandıra Prison, was found dead in her cell, her lawyer and human rights defender Eren Keskin said in a series of tweets on Thursday.
According to Keskin, the prison administration called Gezer’s sister Asya and told her Garibe had died by suicide. “She was a torture victim. She was staying in a solitary cell [due to disciplinary action],” Keskin said. “How can a woman hang herself in a cell. Shame on you!!!!”
Biraz önce Kandıra cezaevinde müvekkilimiz Garibe Gezer’in intihar ettiği bilgisini aldık. Kendisi işkence mağduruydu. Hücre cezası vardı. Cezaevi müdürü ablasını aradı maalesef Garibe’mizi kaybettik. Av Jiyan Tosun ve Av Jiyan Kaya yanına gidiyorlar.
— Eren Keskin (@KeskinEren1) December 9, 2021
Speaking to Jinnews, Jiyan Tosun, another of Gezer’s lawyers, said Garibe had attempted suicide before but was sent to a solitary cell without receiving any treatment. “They did not take any precautions for her despite our requests to the prosecutor’s office,” Tosun said. “We told them she shouldn’t be staying alone, but our requests were turned down.”
Tosun added that even if Gezer really took her own life, the prison administration was responsible for her death since they failed to take the necessary measures to protect her.
Gezer had told her sister that she was put in a padded cell where she was stripped in front of male guards, beaten, sexually harassed and left without medical treatment. The cell had no proper toilet and she was made to use a hole in the ground. She said the cell smelled of human excrement.
When she could no longer endure the mistreatment Gezer tried to kill herself by hanging herself with bed sheets. The attempt failed, however, and she fell and hit her head. Although the guards could see the entire process with the help of camera surveillance, nobody came to her aid, and Gezer was left with a head wound for several hours.
The bleeding in Gezer’s head continued until the next day, and she complained that the infirmary doctor also mistreated her. Unable to stand the suffering much longer, Gezer wrote to her family.
Some of her letters were not mailed, while others were sent after some parts were removed by the prison administration. She was also interrogated by the prosecutor’s office for talking about the mistreatment.
In October Keskin, who is also the co-chair of the Human Rights Association (İHD), filed a complaint against the prison guards who allegedly beat and sexually harassed Gezer.
Züleyha Gülüm, a deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), submitted a parliamentary question addressing the Justice Ministry concerning the mistreatment. She asked whether the ministry was aware of the physical and sexual abuse and if the guards had been investigated.
Gülüm also asked if the ministry was aware of the use of padded cells where inmates were subjected to torture.
Prison authorities had previously said padded cells were for inmates with psychological issues, so they would not harm themselves. Since the rooms were lined with foam, they blocked sound. Inmates have claimed that these rooms have been used for torture in recent years.