Human Rights Association demands Turkish authorities immediately release sick, elderly woman from prison

The Human Rights Association (İHD) said in a statement from their YouTube channel that an imprisoned elderly woman, 75-year-old Fatma Güler, should be immediately released from prison due to a number of severe health problems.

Ahmet Çiçek, who is a member of the İHD’s prison committee, said Güler’s health had deteriorated considerably in prison. Güler had two surgeries for stomach cancer before she was arrested. She also suffered from high blood pressure and liver disease. After she was sent to prison, Güler developed a cyst in her liver, suffers from extreme swelling and her hearing and eyesight have deteriorated.

Güler’s lawyer appealed to the prosecutor’s office for her release, but it was denied. “According to the law, Güler should be released due to her old age and illnesses,” said Çiçek. “But she was arrested on terrorism charges, which is why her appeal was rejected.”

Güler’s son, Bahtiyar Güler, said his mother was arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “My mother witnessed an armed fight while she was out in the fields with the animals,” he said. “She was detained and later sentenced to five years in prison.”

Güler was arrested on October 30, 2018 in eastern Tunceli province on unspecified charges. Her family is requesting Güler’s release before a parole hearing in August to prevent her illnesses from progressing.

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 former Peoples’ Democratic Party (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.

According to the most recent statistics published by the İHD, the number of sick prisoners is in the thousands, more than 600 of whom are critically ill. Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to free them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society.

A number of critically ill prisoners passed away in 2020 because they were not released in time to receive proper medical treatment.

Since April 2020 four seriously ill prisoners over the age of 70 have died in penal institutions; five inmates suffering from cancer died shortly after they were released; and 16 died of chronic illnesses while imprisoned.

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