HDP lawmaker asks parliament’s Human Rights Committee to investigate alleged rights violations in Turkish prisons

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Meral Danış Beştaş has requested that the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee investigate alleged rights violations in four different prisons, the Bianet news website reported.

Beştaş asked that the Kayseri, Urfa, Sincan and Silivri prisons be investigated due to a high number of complaints originating from them. “We are receiving frequent complaints … which clearly indicate there is a problem in these institutions,” she said.

Beştaş said social activities in Kayseri prison had been arbitrarily suspended. Inmates do not have access to computers or courses that are usually offered, such as language and music courses. Furthermore, the prison administration has restricted inmates’ exercise time to 45 minutes a day.

Visitation hours were also restricted to 50 minutes a week, while their cells were frequently searched by prison guards. Moreover, inmates complained they were not allowed to read newspapers critical of the Turkish government.

In Urfa T-Type Prison, inmates said their cells were searched and that they were beaten by prison guards. Some inmates were arbitrarily subjected to disciplinary punishments that included cancellation of family visits for up to three months.

In Ankara’s Sincan Prison, political prisoners were reportedly discriminated against by the prison administration. While regular inmates had 30 minutes of telephone privileges every week, political prisoners only had 10 minutes. Moreover, regular inmates were able to video-call their families, while political prisoners were not allowed this privilege. Books, hygiene products, clothing for exercise, underwear and blankets were also restricted for political prisoners.

In Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, an inmate named Orhan Sayır said he was prevented from speaking with his 82-year-old mother who lived more than 1,000 kilometers away. Sayır requested transfer to a prison closer to home since his disabled mother was unable to visit him, but the request was denied.

This is not the first time opposition lawmakers have alleged rights violations in Turkish prisons. There have been several reports of overcrowding, mistreatment, shortage of food and other necessities in prisons.

Moreover, a total of 1,572 appeals were submitted to the Civil Society in the Penal System (CISST), a civil society organization that monitors human rights violations in prisons in Turkey, complaining of mistreatment, torture and neglect in prisons between 2021 and 2022.

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