Opposition MP accuses justice ministry of lying about mistreatment, torture in Turkish prisons

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has accused Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ of lying about mistreatment and torture in Turkish prisons, saying a number of inmates had died in the last four months.

Gergerlioğlu also called on Bozdağ on social media to explain how inmate Ferhan Yılmaz died in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.

“There is no torture, mistreatment in Turkish prisons. We have zero tolerance for torture and mistreatment,” Bozdağ said on Wednesday.

Speaking to prison guards at an event on April 2, Bozdağ also said the government “has not closed its eyes to torture and mistreatment in its prisons,” claiming it has one of the best penal systems in the world.

The Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) recently reported that two inmates in Silivri Prison died in April after being subjected to severe beating and mistreatment by prison guards.

Images of Ferhan Yılmaz, one of the inmates, emerged on April 13 showing him badly injured in a hospital bed. In one photograph Yılmaz’s face appears bruised and his nose broken.

Another of the inmates, Halil Kasan, had told his family during a telephone conversation that the guards continuously taunted them and told them they could provide them with ropes if inmates wanted to kill themselves. “One guard asked me if I had a rope and said I could easily hang myself,” Kasan told his family. “They make prison life unbearable for us, the cells are disgusting, there’s not enough food or beds. We don’t feel safe, and we’re always intimidated by the guards.”

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. 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.

An annual report by Amnesty International (AI) 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.

In its annual human rights report on Turkey, the US Department of State listed credible reports of arbitrary killings, suspicious deaths of persons in custody, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and the continued detention of tens of thousands of persons for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech as being among the significant human rights issues in the country.

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