Mother of man arrested on terrorism links says son subjected to severe mistreatment in Turkish prison

The mother of Emir Karakum, who was arrested in December 2021 for alleged links to terrorist organizations, said he had been subjected to severe mistreatment in Turkey’s Bafra Prison, the Bianet news website reported.

Birsen Karakum said she had talked to her son on the phone, when she found out that the guards had repeatedly beat him. He told her his arms were covered in bruises and that the prison doctor remained silent about his injuries.

“My son could barely talk,” said Birsen Karakum. “I want to see him immediately, and we are trying to arrange a visit with a lawyer.”

She added that guards also took her son’s blankets and personal letters.

Karakum was accused of membership in the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), a militant Marxist group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

He was arrested after writing an open letter to Bianet in support of a friend who had been previously arrested on terrorism charges. Karakum said his friend, Rıdvan Akbaş, had been arrested despite being cleared of charges against him.

Karakum was allegedly subjected to a series of rights violations upon arriving in prison. The guards wanted to conduct a strip-search, but Karakum resisted, saying it violated his dignity. He was later beaten by the guards and has been constantly subjected to mistreatment since then.

The European Court of Human Rights has found strip-searches to constitute degrading treatment when not justified by compelling security reasons and/or due to the way they were conducted. But the practice has been frequently used by Turkish security forces against people suspected or convicted of political crimes.

Karakum has been kept in a one-person cell and is not allowed to socialize with other inmates. He was not allowed to use the prison yard in the first months of his arrest and was prohibited from receiving visitors for four months and telephoning his family for a month.

In a previous interview Karakum’s lawyer, Ceren Yılmaz, said Karakum’s face was swollen and covered in bruises when she visited him after his arrest. “The only people who see Emir [Karakum] are the guards,” she added. “We’ve requested his transfer to a prison in Istanbul, where his court hearings will take place.”

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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