HDP lawmaker submits parliamentary motion for release of critically ill prisoner

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Tülay Hatimoğulları has submitted a parliamentary motion calling for the release of a critically ill inmate in western Turkey’s Denizli Prison, the Bianet news website reported.

Ekim Polat, 24, is a critically ill prisoner who was convicted of taking part in the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. He suffers from acromegaly, a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone, which leads to abnormally large hands and feet, among other symptoms. He also has a brain tumor and needs surgery. Polat has suffered two heart attacks while in prison.

Hatimoğulları drew attention to Polat’s condition and pointed out that he was still waiting for surgery to remove the tumor in his brain. Emphasizing that the young man’s treatment had been delayed, Hatimoğulları called for Polat’s release from prison so that he can seek proper treatment.

In her motion Hatimoğulları said sick prisoners did not receive proper care in Turkish prisons and called on the Ministry of Justice to work on implementing policies to ensure these prisoners receive better care.

Polat’s mother recently called on authorities to release Polat, but to no avail. In protest, Polat started a hunger strike on August 2; however, the vitamins he needed during the hunger strike were not provided by the prison.

The young man was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to 24 years in prison. He has been transferred to many different facilities but is currently incarcerated in western Denizli province.

Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) has issued several medical reports saying Polat is fit to remain in prison, but his family has argued against the validity of these reports.

Doubts over the independence and credibility of the ATK, an institution that assesses the condition of sick inmates to decide if they are fit to remain in prison and is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, have grown in recent years as more and more critically ill prisoners have died behind bars.

Turkish authorities have denied political prisoners, even those with critical illnesses, release from prison so they can at least seek proper treatment. Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners.

Lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return. He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu also recently stated that there were close to 1,600 sick prisoners in Turkey, of whom 600 were seriously ill. He addressed the ATK and asked them to observe medical ethics and to be more conscientious when issuing reports since they could cause the death of ailing inmates.

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