Opposition MP calls on justice ministry to respond to his questions on deaths in Turkish prisons

Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu has called on Turkey’s justice ministry to respond his parliamentary questions on the deaths of inmates, citing the cases of Abdo Baran, Nusret Muğla, Yusuf Bekmezci, Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, Garibe Gezer and Nesrin Gençosman.

Gergerlioğlu also said on social media on Monday that the ministry has not replied to 175 parliamentary questions on cases in Turkish prisons since the appointment of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on January 29, 2022.

Speaking to prison guards at an event on Saturday, Bozdağ 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.

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.

Kurdish inmate Baran, 80, who was suffering from end-stage colon cancer, died in March in southeastern Turkey’s Mardin province after being denied release from prison to seek proper treatment.

Eighty-two-year-old philanthropist with Alzheimer’s disease Bekmezci died in February amid calls for his immediate release from prison.

Muğla, an 84-year-old ailing man who was serving a sentence on conviction of links to the Gülen movement, passed away in February after contracting COVID-19 in prison.

Gezer, an inmate who alleged that she was beaten and sexually harassed by prison guards in Kocaeli’s Kandıra Prison, was found dead in her cell in December. In a letter sent to the HDP, her brother Haşim, an inmate in Elazığ Prison, said Garibe told him in a phone call that she was abused physically and sexually by prison guards.

Kabakçıoğlu was found dead on a chair in a quarantine cell in prison in August 2020. He struggled with multiple health problems during his time in prison. Already an asthma patient, Kabakçıoğlu lost 40 kilos and developed diabetes while serving a sentence at the Gümüşhane E Type Closed Prison due to the poor conditions of the facility.

Gençosman, a 30-year-old Turkish woman who was put in pretrial detention in May 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement, died in July 2018 in a prison in Ordu province, reportedly due to deprivation of the medication she took for pneumonitis.

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