Political prisoners in Turkey denied release despite eligibility for parole, HDP deputy says

Ayşe Sürücü, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said she had received hundreds of letters from political prisoners who were subjected to rights violations, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Sürücü said the most common violation of prisoners’ rights alleged in the letters she received was that many inmates are denied release from prison even though they’re eligible for parole.

Sürücü told Gazete Duvar about a letter sent by Hanım Yıldırım, an inmate at Sincan Prison in Ankara. “Yıldırım has the right to be released on parole, but she continues to be held in prison because the prison administration said her brother was arrested on Gülen charges, therefore they can’t release her yet. What kind of reasoning is that? Where is the principle of the individuality of the crime?” Sürücü asked.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Another example Sürücü pointed out was convict Rojda Erez, who is also eligible for parole but had not been released for months because the prison administration had confused her file with that of another inmate. The administration told Erez that she had killed her husband 15 years ago and that her release was delayed because she might hurt someone else. Erez, however, has never been married and is imprisoned for political reasons. When she pointed this out, the administration said it was a mistake but that she had consumed a lot of water during her time in prison so it was decided to keep her for a while as a disciplinary punishment.

Sürücü added that there were also many letters in which the prisoners were repeatedly mistreated for singing Kurdish songs and chanting slogans about the mistreatment they were subjected to.

After an abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and right violations 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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