Jailed veteran columnist and renowned theologian Ali Bulaç has not been given the prescribed medications he is required to take daily by the authorities at İstanbul’s Silivri Prison and is instead receiving their cheaper, generic versions, according to Turgay Olcayto, president of the Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC).
Bulaç, a columnist for the now-closed Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies, was detained on July 27, 2016 over alleged links to the Gülen movement and arrested three days later on accusations of spreading propaganda on behalf of the movement.
According to a report by online news outlet TR724, Olcayto had visited Bulaç and the Cumhuriyet daily’s Akın Atalay in Silivri Prison. Reminding that Bulaç had previously undergone bypass surgery, Olcayto said he still suffers from several serious ailments such as hypertension and goiter.
“Now the Institute of Forensic Medicine is assuring Bulaç’s treatment in various hospitals while preparing a medical report for him. One of Bulaç’s main health problems is that many of the drugs he has been instructed by doctors to take on a daily basis that are provided by the prison administration are not the name brand drugs as prescribed; he is only receiving their cheaper, generic versions. Despite the intervention of the Undersecretariat of the Justice Ministry into the issue, he has not yet been able receive the prescribed medications. Apart from this problem, he is still in good spirits and is about to complete a book on philosophy,” Olcayto said.
Also speaking about his meeting with Atalay, Olcayto stated that “I saw my colleague looking very well in terms of morale and health. He is preparing for the Cumhuriyet case, which will be tried on April 24.” Saying that “there is an urgent need for the internal peace of society,” Olcayto added that the release of jailed journalists, intellectuals, lawyers, academics would help to build social peace. “I think we strongly need that, and I want to believe that the government will be able to transform society into a healthy structure.”
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 256 journalists and media workers were in jail as of April 11, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 197 were under arrest pending trial while only 58 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 140 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down about 200 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.