Forensic report says ailing Kurdish politician ‘fit to remain in prison’

A report released by the İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) has found that former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Aysel Tuğluk, who has been behind bars since late 2016 on terrorism charges, is fit to remain in prison although her lawyers claim the politician is in poor health, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

Last week lawyers Reyhan Yalçındağ and Serdar Çelebi announced that Tuğluk took a fall in prison, for which they are demanding proper medical treatment in addition to her release.

They did not disclose Tuğluk’s illness at the time, saying she wanted it to remain private, but said the Council of Forensic Medicine had conducted a physical examination and that they were waiting for a report determining whether she healthy enough to stay in prison.

The ATK has now finalized its report, according to which Tuğluk is fit to remain in prison, saying her health does not preclude her from carrying out her daily activities on her own.

Tuğluk was arrested on December 29, 2016 while she was co-chair of the HDP along with seven other Kurdish opposition politicians. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of serving as the executive of a terrorist organization and taking orders from Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is an armed secessionist group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

Several public speeches she made and her attendance at funerals of alleged terrorists were used as evidence against her in court.

Tuğluk has denied the accusations, saying she never called for violence and always sought democratic solutions to problems the Kurds faced. She added that she was only a member of the HDP and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organization that aims to bring together pro-Kurdish political parties, and NGOs. However, Turkish authorities have argued that the DTK has links to the PKK.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners so they can seek proper treatment. Human rights defender and HDP deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return.

According to Gergerlioğlu, sick prisoners are released when the authorities realize they will die soon. He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals or infirmaries.

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