Letters by inmate prior to his death reveal severe mistreatment

Letters written by an inmate prior to his death revealed he had been subjected to beating, death threats and psychological pressure, the Duvar news website reported.

Mehmet Bozan, 45, was found dead in Ankara’s Sincan Prison in August. Before his death Bozan had written 12 letters to the Civil Society in the Penal System (CISST) saying he was being severely mistreated and in the event of his death, the prison administration was responsible. Bozan said he did not feel safe in prison and feared being killed during the mistreatment he was receiving.

CISST asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate these claims in 2021 and 2022; however, the ministry did not launch any formal investigation.

In addition to the mistreatment Bozan also complained of neglect and said he had not been properly treated for tuberculosis. “I started a hunger strike on June 28 in protest of the mistreatment,” he said. “I believe I’m being especially targeted by guards because I’m Roma.”

Bozan’s mother said they saw finger marks on her son’s neck and bruises on his shoulders after receiving his body. She recalled that he had begged them to find a way to ensure his transfer to another prison, but their appeals were left unanswered.

“He had been stabbed in prison and left with long-term injuries,” she explained. “The prison administration never gave us an explanation as to how this could have happened. I could hardly visit him due to financial problems, but we tried our best to have him transferred.”

The reason for Bozan’s conviction was not disclosed, but he had been in prison for 18 years by the time of his death.

Ill-treatment and torture have become widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers and prisons. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

According to a recent report by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) a record number of people complained about police mistreatment in 2021, with 914 people appealing to the foundation.

An annual report by Amnesty International on the state of human rights in the world revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.

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