HDP deputy asks Turkish justice minister questions about teacher who died in jail

Halime Gülsu

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Meral Danış Bektaş has submitted a parliamentary inquiry to the Parliament’s Speaker’s Office in which he asked several quesitons concerning the death of Halime Gülsu, an unemployed teacher who died in jail on Saturday reportedly because she was denied crucial treatment.

Gülsu, who was arrested on Feb. 20, 2018 along with dozens of other women for allegedly helping the families of people who were jailed over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, died in prison in Mersin province. She was suffering from lupus erythematosus and was reportedly deprived of the medication she took for this disease while in jail.

In the parliamentary inquiry addressing Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, Bektaş asked whether he had been informed about the death of Gülsu in prison and what it means to deny medication to a person in jail who cannot even perform their daily activities.

“Are not prison administraitons responsible for the lives of the inmates in jail?” asked Bektaş.

The HDP deputy also asked where the medical reports of Gülsu went and whether an investigation has been launched to find them and the authorities who lost them.

One of Gülsu’s brothers, Metin, said he brought Gülsu’s medical reports along with her medication while she was in detention but later learned that the reports went missing.

Another question asked by Bektaş was why Gülsu, who twice went into a coma, was kept in prison although she should have been treated in an intensive care unit and why she was sent back to prison although she was hospitalized on April 25.

Bektaş also asked whether an investigation was launched into the officials at Tarsus Prison, where Gülsu died.

The torture, ill-treatment, abusive, inhuman and degrading treatment of people who are deprived of their liberties in Turkey’s detention centers and prisons have become the norm rather than the exception under increased nationalistic euphoria and religious zealotry in the country in the wake of the coup attempt in July 2016.

According to Turkey Purge 28 individuals, among whom are police officers, prosecutors and teachers, had been found dead as of April 2017 in Turkish prisons since the failed coup attempt in 2016, causing serious concern about the fate of thousands of civilians who have been kept in jail in poor conditions across the country.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 113 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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