Mistreatment, rights violations increase in prisons in southern Turkey following devastating earthquakes

Prisoners in the provinces of southern Turkey hit by devastating earthquakes on February 6 are facing increased mistreatment and rights abuses, according to lawyers from the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Lawyer Mehtap Sert, who visited inmates in a prison in Hatay, one of the cities hardest hit by the earthquakes, said the prison had not been heated since the disaster despite the freezing cold and that inmates were receiving inadequate amounts of food and drinking water.

Sert said the prisoners were held in their wards for a long time following the earthquakes and received no psychological support despite the fact that they had been traumatized.

Sert also said the prisoners whose family members died in the earthquakes were not allowed to attend their funerals and that most of them have not been able to communicate with their families since February 6.

“We will continue monitoring these rights violations,” Sert said.

On February 8 three inmates died and at least nine were injured in the suppression of prison riots in Turkey’s Hatay and Kahramanmaraş provinces that were triggered by the massive earthquakes.

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.

Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years, which struck near the city of Gaziantep in the early hours of February 6, has so far claimed the lives of more than 41,000 people in Turkey in addition to injuring in excess of 100,000. Close to 220,000 disaster victims have been evacuated from the region to date, according to the latest official figures.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

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